Vatican calls for action against illicit trade of small arms

.- The Holy See once again reiterated its position against the illicit trade of small arms, at a United Nations conference Wednesday. The conference in New York was a review of the UN’s plan of action to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms.

“Since there is a close link between weapons and violence, weapons and destruction, weapons and hatred and social disintegration, arms cannot be treated as if they were commercial goods like any other,” said Archbishop Celestino Migliore in his presentation. The archbishop serves as the permanent observer of the Holy See at the UN.

“The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons is a threat to peace, development, and security,” he said. “The Holy See therefore supports those who call for a common approach in order to combat, not just the illicit arms trade, but activities related to it, like terrorism, organized crime, and the illicit trade in drugs and precious stones, not forgetting the ethical, social and humanitarian dimensions of these scourges.”

The archbishop made particular mention of the impact of the small arms trade on children, who are exposed to the violence and in some cases forced into service as child soldiers. He also said it was important to address the special needs of children affected by armed conflicts, “their reunification with their family, their reintegration into society and their appropriate rehabilitation.”

The archbishop suggested negotiating a treaty to address the illicit arms trade, based on the principles of international law, and expressed the Holy See’s strong support for the United Kingdom’s proposal for a treaty on the transfer of conventional weapons.

States must perceive the links between disarmament, development, and humanitarian concerns, and commit themselves to programs that will reduce the demand for arms and armed violence, he stated.

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