September 16, 2019
 In Articles

Disarmament and International Security Committee

Preventing the Illicit Arms Trade


Rushil Talla

Forest Hills Eastern

The flow of weapons into countries acts as a major destabilization for power. When groups have access to arms, they are granted a power to force the government to do things such as dethrone those in power and grant wishes by holding hostages and slaughtering civilians. Since these small arms and light weapons are imported illicitly, laws making weapon possession illegal have no effect. The United Nations has previously initiated the Arms Trade Treaty which aimed to control the international import, export, and transfer of conventional arms. This treaty, however, works to control all conventional arms, even guns transported legally, and does not have an effect on illegally transferred weapons because illicit guns are transferred without the knowledge of the local authorities. Simply regulating legal transportation will have no effect because it does not effect illegal weapon transfer. Another issue is insurgents attacking weapon transport vehicles and seizing the weapons. When weapons are transported from one place to another, they are open targets for insurgent groups to claim for their own motives, allowing them to amass their armories. An example of this is in Somali where weapons sent in support to Somali have fallen to the Al-Shabaab rebels who use these supplies to continue fighting. The control over arms is crucial to preventing harm to civilians and to maintain the stability of a country and a solution must be found.

After Cambodia’s civil war in 1970, gun ownership, mostly the AK-47 rifle,  was common in towns, cities and villages around Cambodia. This oversaturation of guns within the population has resulted in many conflicts where blood was shed instead of a peaceful resolve. In the late 1990s, the government decided to remove guns from the possession of civilians, making it illegal to possess weapons. Now, private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law to citizens. State agencies are required to maintain records of the storage and movement of all weapons under control to ensure responsibility of arms transportation. Although Cambodia has successfully controlled registered and legal firearms, Cambodia has been unable to control the unregistered, illicit weapons. In one case, a pickup truck that had crashed was found containing 29 AK-47s, multiple grenades, and 4,000 plus bullets. The truck was on its way to Thailand, sold and transported illegally by an unidentified Cambodian man, unbeknownst to the Cambodian government. These weapons are surprisingly not only used by thieves, but also civil servants and some private individuals. Illicit weapons have been used in brazen armed robberies of jewelry, vehicles, and cash that have left a number of people injured or dead. In our decades of conflict, we have learned the devastating effects of armed conflict caused by illicit possession of arms – murders, destroyed infrastructure, lowered civilian moral, and leaving a country impoverished.

Seeing the effects of illicit arms in our country and others, Cambodia urges the committee to construct a new solution to the illicit arms trade issue as the Arms Trade Treaty has proved ineffective. More thorough checks must be administered at borders to prevent smuggling of weapons for countries containing high illegal weapon activity. Weapon shipments must be tracked and recorded be governments to ensure weapons are handled responsibly. To reduce the hijacking of weapon transport vehicles, laws should ensure that these vehicles are more heavily protected or weapons should be delivered through air transportation as it is harder for insurgents to hijack planes than trucks. These planes could either deliver to airports or drop containers containing the weaponry to designated drop zones.

  • Rushil Talla

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