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Chasing Ammunition: A new Oxfam report calls for more oversight by the international community

by Oxfam | June 7, 2012

This post was written by Ariel Taylor, Policy and Outreach Intern, Oxfam Canada

June 6, 2012—In July, leaders from 195 countries will gather at the United Nations in an attempt to negotiate a new International Arms Treaty.

To date, only a small number of countries report ammunition exports and no intergovernmental agency exists to monitor their trade. However, including oversight of ammunition in the proposed Treaty lacks consensus, with countries including China and the United States maintaining that monitoring ammunition is simply too difficult.

Canada has yet to take a position on the inclusion of ammunition specifically, instead stating simply that the Treaty should not infringe on the rights of lawful gun-owners.

In a new report issued by Oxfam, authors point out that, “Guns are useless without bullets [and] an Arms Treaty that does not control ammunition will not achieve its purposes.” An estimated 12 billion rounds of ammunition are produced annually by an industry thought to be worth upwards of $4.3 billion.

However, the report also notes that in 2007 a shortage of ammunition forced warring parties in South Sudan to negotiate a peaceful end to their conflict and that recently UN monitors reported the Somalia arms embargo had succeeded in limiting the use of specific types of weaponry.  In short, monitoring  the supply of ammunition internationally would help to ensure  civilians are no longer targeted by parities who obtained weapons illegally. 

Oxfam has joined other organizations – including Amnesty International and Project Ploughshares – in a effort to pressure governments to enact a legally-binding and comprehensive Treaty that explicitly includes the trade of ammunition.

Find out more about the campaign.