September 16, 2019
 In Articles

Disarmament and International Security Committee

Preventing the Illicit Arms Trade

Republic of Costa Rica

Hadley Urrutia

Forest Hills Northern


The illicit arms trade includes the illegal exchange of small arms, light weapons, and ammunition. This trafficking fuels civil wars, crime, and can provide artillery to the world’s major terrorist organizations. Small arms and light weapons involved in the trafficking are held accountable for an estimated 60-90% of the 100,000 conflict related deaths that happen annually, and around 1000 non-conflict deaths.


In recent years, the illicit arms trade has increased worldwide, including in the Republic of Costa Rica. Costa Rica recognizes this, and has been doing what it can to help stop it. The Judicial Investigation Unit and Attorney’s General Office of Costa Rica has conducted a series of raids around San José. They were against what was believed to be an international arms trafficking ring with links to other South and Central American countries such as Mexico, Colombia, and Panama. Costa Rica’s police group state they found a “very large” amount of firearms being trafficked. But still, more arms trafficking networks are popping up throughout Costa Rica due to the connection and transit points in the international drug trade. Drug trafficking groups not only create a demand for illegal firearms, but also have the means and resources of smuggling weapons abroad. 


Costa Rica is one of the strongest supporters of the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine (RtoP), and continues to lead and push for the development of it, always with an emphasis on prevention. Costa Rica also performed a vital role in starting negotiations for and securing the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, which establishes common international standards for the trade of conventional arms. Going forward, Costa Rica wishes to resist against the illicit arms trade by way of greater control on buying and selling weapons, and creating less of an open market. Costa Rica also wishes to pursue training previously provided by UNLIREC. The training was given to twenty-eight law enforcement officials, and it covered topics such as identification of firearms and ammunition, intelligence and investigation tools, nationals firearms legislation, as well as illegal trafficking in arms and ammunition. Expanding this course could be an effective way of diminishing the illicit arms trade.

  • Hadley Urrutia

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