Small and light weapons - such as pistols and rifles - kill half a million people every year. They are therefore called today's real weapons of mass destruction.


Sida must prioritize the work against the illegal distribution of weapons

Every day, an average of 575 people in the world are killed by weapons such as rifles and pistols. The Government's priorities in these matters are clear. Reducing the illegal flow of small arms and light weapons is an important goal of peace work. Now Sida must also listen to it, write 11 current and former members of parliament from different parties.

The world of today is characterized by polarization and increasing authoritarian tendencies. According to Global Peace Index The number of conflicts has increased to a record level in the last decade and the shift towards democracy has slowed. Democratic rules of the game and democratic actors are in question. Conflicts and armed violence are, unfortunately, a part of everyday life for too many women, men, girls and boys around the world.

According to Small Arms Survey There are more than one billion small arms and light weapons in the world, of which around 85 percent are owned by civilians. A large part are illegal. The illegal light weapons are a threat to our common peace and security. As emphasized in Agenda 2030, the illegal flow of small and light weapons is a significant obstacle to sustainable and peaceful development. Illegal weapons are also a prerequisite for terrorism and organized crime. Based on available statistics, there are, unfortunately, no signs that the spread and access to small and light weapons is declining, quite the contrary.

In times of challenges, we must work together to focus on opportunities and solutions. Never before has it been so important for democratic actors, including elected parliamentarians, to act globally. To act together, with political will and action across party lines, to safeguard democracy. To work through cooperation for arms control and a more sustainable peaceful world. And never before has Swedish development cooperation been so important in supporting parliamentary actors who - not infrequently in headwinds in their respective countries and contexts - work to achieve change in this direction.

We who write this debate article are some of the Swedish co-founders and members of the organization Parlamentarikerforum for light weapons issues. About 20 years ago, the organization was founded with colleagues from Spain and Latin America. The awareness was raised about the need to limit the spread of weapons in order to reach more developed and sustainable societies. We note that the need today, unfortunately, is still great. We believe that it is important to continue to work vigorously internationally for political solutions and results.

Kills 23 people per hour

Small and light weapons take 23 human lives per hour, or 575 human lives per day. They have - rightly - been called today's real weapons of mass destruction because it is this category of weapons that causes the most deaths. Every year, half a million people lose their lives as a result of armed violence.

Armed violence affects both countries in conflict and countries in peace, but the consequences are particularly felt by people in developing countries. In addition to human suffering, the economic and social costs are extensive. In Guatemala, the United Nations Development Program, UNDP, has shown that the cost of armed violence in some years amounts to up to 10 percent of gross domestic product. Armed violence costs Africa about $ 18 billion a year. In addition, parallel power systems are created based on the availability of weapons in the countries. It undermines the democratic process and counteracts peace and security.

But the consequences of the illegal weapons also affect Europe. The terrorist attacks in recent years in Europe would not have been possible without illegal small and light weapons. Organized crime is based on the availability of small and light weapons. Even in our society, in Sweden, parallel power structures are being created based on access to weapons, which has attracted attention in the recent debate on the tragic fatal shootings.

In these times, with global challenges that require global solutions, it is worrying and incomprehensible to us that the aid agency Sida intends to end its support for the Parliamentary Forum on Light Weapons issues in the near future. In a time that requires a global political gathering for democracy, peace and security, it is particularly important that Sida, as a leading international donor with qualitative analysis of the surrounding world, supports a wide range of actors. We believe it is important that Sida also supports smaller, Swedish actors who work for long-term political changes for weapons control, peace and security - and who contribute to results and policy debate in the area. We also believe that it is important that Sida, as a good, responsible donor, supports relevant partner organizations in their often complex task of ensuring sufficient resources for an efficient and qualitative implementation of initiatives, but also for solid follow-up.

The government is clear in its priorities

The Swedish government's development aid policy priorities are clear in this area. The strategy for sustainable peace 2017 - 2022, includes reducing the illegal flow of small and light weapons as an intermediate goal. The issue also has explicit foreign policy relevance as Sweden is at the forefront globally for peace, security and disarmament, with its connection to sustainable development. The importance of reducing the illegal proliferation of weapons is a common denominator for these issues.

The issue of arms control is also strongly linked to gender equality. Boys and men are the ones who commit violence to the greatest extent and make up the majority of the victims. Violence also has serious consequences for women. The widespread proliferation of small arms and light weapons is leading to increased violence against women, especially violence in close relationships. Studies have shown a direct link between the number of homicides and the use of these weapons. Globally, weapons were used in a third of women murders. To work for gun control is thus to work for women's safety.

Given the situation in the outside world, we believe that Sida must more aggressively prioritize the assistance directed at conflict prevention work against armed violence and the illegal proliferation of weapons. It is about supporting a breadth of democratic actors who work for peaceful and sustainable development. And last but not least, it's about human security. For the woman in Guatemala. The man in South Africa. The girl in the Philippines. The boy in Yemen.

Karin Enström (M), Member of the Riksdag Constitutional Committee, co-founder of the Parliamentary Forum for Light Weapons Issues

Lotta Johnsson Fornarve (V), Member of Parliament for the Defense Committee

Hanna Gunnarsson (V), Member of Parliament for the Defense Committee

Charlotta Lotta Hedström (MP), former Member of Parliament and co-founder of the Parliamentary Forum for Light Weapons Issues

Charlotta Lotta Ohlsson (M), Member of Parliament for the Business Committee

Désirée Pethrus (KD), Member of Parliament for the EU Committee

Yasmine Posio (V), Member of Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee

Håkan Svenneling (V), Member of Parliament for the Foreign Affairs Committee

Bodil Valero (MP), former Member of Parliament and Member of the European Parliament

Christer Winbäck (L), former Member of Parliament, co-founder of the Parliamentary Forum for Light Weapons Issues

Eva Zetterberg (V), former Member of Parliament, co-founder of the Parliamentary Forum on Light Weapons Issues

Small and light weapons

Small arms are the weapons that can be used by a person, such as pistols and rifles. The weapons that can be fired by two people, such as grenade launchers or robots are called light weapons. In addition, hand grenades, ammunition and landmines are counted as small and light weapons.

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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