SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR END TO "SCOURGE" OF ILLEGAL SMALL-ARMS PROLIFERATION
NEW YORK, 9 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of Small Arms Destruction Day, 9 July:
There are estimated to be at least 500 million small arms and light weapons in circulation -- one for every 12 people on earth. The vast majority are in the hands of legal authorities, but legal weapons often end up in the hands of irregular troops, criminals, drug traffickers and terrorists. According to the independent Small Arms Survey 2001, small arms are implicated in well over a thousand deaths every single day.
This is not just a matter of disarmament, but rather is linked to conflict prevention, human rights, humanitarian assistance, the rule of law and development. "Small Arms Destruction Day", along with the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons opening today in New York, will help give this issue the high profile it deserves. I look forward to working with governments, civil society groups and the general public to rid humanity of this scourge.
* *** *