Please find attached the latest newsletter ( doc file 2004 Review - the Year in Small Arms zip file 2004 Review - the Year in Small Arms ) of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA).
IANSA is the umbrella NGO advocating gun control* at the United Nations. It has 600 member organizations in 100 countries and is financed by governments (UK, Belgium, Sweden, et al) and liberal foundations (Ford, Rockerfeller, MacArthur, Soros, et al).
This newsletter is worth a careful read. We have had our successes, but the extensiveness and depth of IANSA's effort should be a warning. I am particularly concerned about developments in Brazil, South Africa, Kenya and the emergence of the so called "Control Arms" campaign.
*Until recently IANSA has finessed the issue of "gun control" by only making references to "small arms." This has changed as IANSA has become more active are in domestic gun control campaigns various counties.
Defending Canada's Heritage
3 February 2005
BRUSSELS – Belgium’s justice minister has pledged to implement a tough new law on the possession of guns.
Laurette Onkelinx told the federal parliament she intends to propose new rules to ensure no one in Belgium owns a gun without a licence.
"Permission will only be given if there’s a legitimate motive," Onkelinx told MPs.
She said at the moment there were 641,781 personal guns owned in Belgium and 27,492 military guns, an official total of 669,273 guns.
But those figures don’t take into account a huge number of guns which have not been registered, including a large number of hunting weapons.
Experts say that in reality Belgium has around 2 million guns in circulation.
Some parties such as the Flemish left-wing liberals Spirit want to see a total ban on the possession of guns in homes, arguing that 367 people a year on average die from gunshot wounds here.
Some of the deaths are suicides while others are victims of shootings.
On the other side, the Flemish Christian Democrats (CD&V) and the Flemish right-leaning Liberal VLD party want to see a liberalisation of Belgium’s gun laws.
They want to give citizens the right to use guns to protect their property.
Under Belgium’s current legislation, a person can shoot someone to protect themselves or another person from an attack or an imminent attack, though the defence must be appropriate to the attack.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Update from UN OEWG meeting in New York (marking and tracing)
The UN Open Ended Working Group (on marking and tracing) entered its second week of meetings today. Here is what I have learned while here:
1. Whether or not ammunition will be included, in a marking instrument, remains a major issue. The Germans made a presentation last Friday. Putting the lot number on a box (smallest container) or a headstamp is a strong possibility. Record keeping may be "voluntary." Regardless the ammunition issues does not seem to be going away. Look for more UN activity in this area.
2. India is pushing to include shotguns under any instrument. The definitions, referred to in the proposal, did not include shotguns. India raised this issue. I received information that Italy has objected.
3. Germany wants a definition included in the instrument: "...manufactured to military specifications as lethal weapons of war..." This won't work, but at least the definition issue is on the table.
4. There is still discussion as to weather the instrument will be binding (a treaty) or non-binding (political arrangement). Japan seems to be taking the position that it will accept non-binding just so it can get some type of agreement.
5. There will be a new draft of the proposed instrument available Wednesday.
Several international anti-firearms groups have released a report, on marking and tracing to coincide with the beginning of two weeks of UN meetings in New York on the subject. Very significantly, it is proposed that ammunition be included in a future treaty. The "Control Arms" (Amnesty International, Oxfam and the International Action Network on Small Arms) published the report. Here are several articles plus the report itself.
Weapons hard to trace, says report
By Andrew Taylor
Published: January 24 2005 02:00 | Last updated: January 24 2005 02:00
It is easier to trace a suitcase or a GM tomato than a lethal weapon, according to research released today by the Control Arms campaign. The report by the campaign, backed by Amnesty International, Oxfam International and the International Action Network on Small Arms, said while weapons and ammunition often carried serial numbers, there was no worldwide system to record this information when arms were sold.
Anna MacDonald, campaigns director of Oxfam, said: "It is outrageous that you have more chance of tracking a GM tomato or a suitcase than you do an AK-47 or rocket launcher. A piece of lost luggage can be tracked from London to Liberia within hours, yet deadly weapons disappear without trace on a daily basis. The government must use its influence to push for urgent change."
The report, Tracing Lethal Tools, was released to coincide with a United Nations conference in New York. It urged the UN to adopt a legally binding international marking and tracing system for small arms, light weapons and ammunition. Andrew Taylor
UN rules on marking guns urged
Monday January 24, 2005
Leading human rights groups are appealing to governments today to agree to track and mark small arms and ammunition to make exporting countries accountable for weapons reaching human rights abusers and war criminals.
There is no worldwide system to record serial numbers when it comes to the sale and transfer of small arms and ammunition, Amnesty, Oxfam and the International Action Network on Small Arms (Iansa) say.
This renders them useless in tracing illegal arms shipments, they say in a report, Tracking Lethal Tools, timed to coincide with UN negotiations in New York on how to monitor the weapons trade.
"It is outrageous that you have more chance of tracking a GM tomato or a suitcase than you do an AK47 or rocket launcher", said Anna MacDonald, Oxfam's campaigns director.
The groups are pressing governments to ensure that a new UN agreement should make marking and tracing of small arms and ammunition legally binding.
New arms exports controls urged
Press Association (UK)
Monday January 24, 2005 10:33 AM
British charities have issued a call for a new system of international controls on small arms exports to prevent weapons reaching human rights abusers and war criminals.
The Control Arms campaign - which includes Oxfam and Amnesty International - said the lack of a global system to track guns and ammunition meant exporting countries could not be held to account for what happened to the weapons they sold.
In a report, entitled Tracing Lethal Tools, the group said that while weapons and ammunition often do have serial numbers, there was no international system to record the information.
As a result, serial numbers were useless as a tool to identify, locate and trace illegal arms shipments.
"It is outrageous that you have more chance of tracking a GM tomato or a suitcase than you do an AK47 or rocket launcher," said Oxfam campaigns director Anna MacDonald.
"A piece of lost luggage can be tracked from London to Liberia within hours, yet deadly weapons disappear without trace on a daily basis. The British Government must use its influence to push for urgent change."
The report highlighted the murder of PC Ian Broadhurst by David Bieber as an example of the way the absence of effective controls can create problems closer to home.
It said that the gun used in the killing was part of a batch of over 2,000 weapons licensed for export from Croatia using fictitious paperwork and front companies based in the United States, British Virgin Islands and Nigeria.
Elsewhere, the report said that spent cartridges found after a massacre in Gatumba in Burundi, in which 150 people died, showed that the ammunition used in the attack was manufactured in China, Bulgaria and Serbia.
However the lack of any tracing mechanism meant it was impossible to prove how it got there.
Press Release from Oxfam:
Lethal arms vanishing “without a trace”: new report
There is more likelihood of being able to trace a suitcase or a GM tomato than a lethal weapon, according to new research released today by the Control Arms campaign. The lack of a global system to track small arms and ammunition means exporting countries cannot be held accountable for their weapons reaching human rights abusers and war criminals.
The report by the Control Arms campaign - Amnesty International, Oxfam International and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) - shows that while weapons and ammunition often do carry basic serial numbers, there is no worldwide system to record this information when it comes to the sale and transfer of small arms. This renders them useless as a tool to identify, locate and trace illegal arms shipments. It has also made it easier for weapons to find their way into the hands of killers in the UK.
Those countries selling arms illegally can simply claim ignorance of how the weapons ever ended up in the hands of killers.
The Control Arms report “Tracking Lethal Tools” is released as the United Nations Marking and Tracing conference begins today in New York. The report urges the UN to immediately adopt a legally binding international marking and tracing system for small arms, light weapons and ammunition.
“It is outrageous that you have more chance of tracking a GM tomato or a suitcase than you do an AK47 or rocket launcher. A piece of lost luggage can be tracked from London to Liberia within hours, yet deadly weapons disappear without trace on a daily basis. The British government must use its influence to push for urgent change,” said Anna MacDonald, Campaigns Director of Oxfam.
Governments’ resistance to a global system for tracking arms transfers has meant that it is nearly impossible to prosecute people or hold governments accountable for illegally selling arms and breaking UN arms embargoes.
“Every day, Amnesty International gathers evidence of appalling human rights abuses around the world. A marking and tracing system would provide vital evidence to pinpoint who is responsible for arming the abusers. It is time the world had a way to clearly identify those behind this cynical and deadly trade and bring them to justice”, said Amnesty International’s UK Director Kate Allen.
A tracing system would help combat the abuse of weapons by allowing them to be tracked from the time they were produced to the end user. It would help to identify arms brokers who violate national or international law, help enforce arms embargoes and ultimately it would help save lives.
In Britain the recent murder of PC Ian Broadhurst by David Bieber shows that the problem has repercussions closer to home. The gun used in the murder was part of a batch of over two thousand weapons licensed for export from Croatia using fictitious paperwork and front companies based in the United States, British Virgin Islands and Nigeria. An effective marking and tracing system together with the introduction of an international arms tread treaty would help put an end to the transfer of weapons in such circumstances. Had a marking and tracing system existed in this case it would have been much harder for these weapons to be sold onto the black market, by requiring each transfer of the weapons to be fully documented.
In the recent massacre in Gatumba in Burundi in which 150 people were killed, spent cartridges showed that the ammunition used in the attack was manufactured in China, Bulgaria and Serbia. However the lack of any tracing mechanism meant it was impossible to prove how it got there. Had a tracing mechanism existed, those who sold the ammunition to the killers could have been held accountable and future supplies could have been stopped.
International tracing systems already exist for several goods, including food made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which can be tracked from production to supermarket shelves to ensure quality control. Suitcases can also be easily tracked via international computer systems throughout the world’s airports.
“Eight million new weapons are manufactured every year and countless crimes and atrocities are committed against civilians around the world. Yet there is precious little chance of prosecuting the perpetrators of violent crimes with no global system to prove the origin of weapons,” said IANSA Director Rebecca Peters.
The Control Arms campaign sees a global system for marking and tracing weapons as one vital step towards improving the regulation of the arms trade. A comprehensive system requires the adoption of an International Arms Trade Treaty and a convention to control the activities of arms brokers. Hundreds of thousands of people from across the world and several governments have already backed the campaign.
For an interview please call:
Oxfam: Brendan Cox: + 44 (0) 1865 312 498 or + 44 (0) 7957 120 853
Amnesty International: Steve Ballinger + 44 (0) 20 7 417 6355 or 07721 398984
IANSA: Emile LeBrun + 31 (0) 20 427 7754
Notes to editors
Tracking Lethal Tools calls for:
• Governments to work with the UN’s current negotiations on an international tracing and marking instrument as part of the United Nation’s Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, to create a legally binding treaty on marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons.
This treaty should include:
• High common standards for the marking of all small arms and light weapons
· Provisions for marking and tracing ammunition
· Ways of strengthening governments’ capacities to implement the treaty’s measures
· Detailed international standards for record-keeping on arms transfers, with Governments required to keep accurate records of arms and ammunition manufactured, held and transferred in and out of their countries, and having access to manufacturer’s records
Note: Two days ago I sent you an article on a positive development in Kenya - Parliament passed a hunting bill. Unfortunately the President disapproved of the measure. Please find attached an article on this. It is a nasty little piece and seems blatantly anti-hunting and anti-US. Regardless, the fight to bring hunting back to Kenya is not over.
Wildlife Bill Kibaki Rejected Had High-Level U.S. Support
The East African (Nairobi)
January 10, 2005
Posted to the web January 11, 2005
John Mbaria And Kevin Kelley
Nairobi and Washington, DC
A JOINT REPORT
THE RECENT refusal by President Mwai Kibaki to assent to the Wildlife (Conservation and Management) (Amendment) Bill halted an international campaign aimed at getting Kenya to open its wildlife for sport hunting, especially the big game.
At the centre of the campaign was Safari Club International (SCI), an elitist hunting club with deep roots in the United States government and Congress.
The US government may also have rendered financial support to local pro-hunting groups through the United States Agency for International Development (USAid).
Besides funding a trip by 23 Kenyan officials to countries in Southern Africa, The EastAfrican can reveal today that SCI had been working together with an affiliate group of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) on a proposed pilot hunting project in Samburu.
Following interviews with SCI officials in the US, it has emerged that the organisation had been working with the chairman of IUCN's Sustainable Group for East Africa, Eric Bosire, to set up the Samburu project.
According to the director of governmental affairs and wildlife conservation in SCI, Richard Parsons, the organisation had wanted to show that hunting can benefit local communities and not damage wildlife or the environment. Parsons also said that SCI, which brings together 46,000 members, understands that it cannot move forward with its agenda unless it has partners in Kenya who are working for the same goals.
Mr Bosire, who works in Nanyuki, said, "It is true we have been working with SCI on this project." He revealed that the three-year project was to be based in the Wamba area of Samburu, and its goal was to introduce sport hunting in the area.
"We had banked on the passing of the Bill in order to prove that wildlife utilisation is one form of conservation and that local communities can benefit too."
Mr Parsons said although SCI had not entered into any financial arrangement with IUCN, it had provided "a very small amount of money" to the Kenya Wildlife Working Group (KWWG).
KWWG is an umbrella body that brings together major wildlife forums in Kenya and has offices at the East African Wildlife Society (EAWLS) premises in Nairobi. It is reputed to be the local co-ordinator of the pro-hunting lobby in Kenya.
It has also emerged that SCI was encouraged to pursue the Samburu project by an official at the Kenyan embassy in the US. According to Mr Parsons, SCI officials met with the official two years ago, who assured them that the project would be well received, provided it was carried out as part of a conservation programme and was shown to be beneficial to Kenyans living nearby.
Claims have also been made that through USAid, the US government, which relaxed its own Endangered Species Act (ESA) early last year, thus giving its nationals the green light to import endangered species from other countries, was involved in the pro-hunting campaign.
Wayne Pacelle, director of the Humane Society of the United States, told The EastAfrican that he wouldn't be surprised if USAid were working with the Safari Club to end the ban on big-game hunting in Kenya.
The Humane Society, a large and influential group in the US, is a strong opponent of the Safari Club and does not approve of hunting in general.
Mr Pacelle also claimed that aid given by the US to conservation is aimed at arm-twisting African governments to embrace hunting. He cited USAid's financial support for the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (Campfire) programme in Zimbabwe. The programme commenced in 1989 and ended in 1999. In that period, Zimbabwe is said to have issued about 150 licenses per year for elephant hunting.
USAid also funded a similar programme in Botswana and committed about $6.5 million to these programmes.
The Wildlife Bill was sponsored by Laikipia West Member of Parliament G.G Kariuki and had the support of top game ranchers in Kenya who operated under the auspices of the KWWG. SCI is reported to have contributed $50,000 for a trip taken by 23 Kenyan officials to countries in Southern Africa.
The group included Kenyan legislators and top officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife.
"We wanted the parliamentarians to see that it is do-able," Mr Parsons said, referring to what he says is the Southern African countries' success in balancing wildlife conservation and big-game hunting while providing benefits for local communities. "To that extent, I suppose we did indirectly lobby on the Wildlife Bill," he added.
SCI is reportedly a big financier of US political campaigns and had, according to the US Humane Society, contributed nearly $600,000 to Republican candidates and about $92,000 to Democrats since 1998. Its members are drawn from various countries but most are in the US.
Its members include former US president George Walker Bush, Norman Schwarzkopf, head of Nato forces during the 1990 Gulf war and more than 20 current members of the US Congress.
Bush, Schwarzkopf and former US vice president Dan Quayle wrote a letter in 2001 urging the Botswana government to scrap its ban on lion hunting.
Meanwhile, KWWG co-ordinator Rudolf Makhanu told The EastAfrican that he agreed with the president's sentiments that debate on the Bill had not incorporated the views of most stakeholders.
"It was not possible to bring everybody on board but most of the people who thought they could be affected in the event the Bill became law volunteered to participate," he said.
Conceding that SCI had been financing the KWWG, Mr Makhanu claimed that international groups including the Born Free Foundation and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) had also funded the anti-Bill lobby.
In rejecting the Bill, the president directed the acting Minister for Tourism and Wildlife Raphael Tuju to prepare a comprehensive sessional paper and legislation, "through a consultative process, which will be debated by Parliament".
The Bill had asked parliament to devolve the powers wielded by the central government over wildlife conservation matters to lower level conservation groupings and to raise the compensation offered to victims of human-wildlife conflict from the current rate of Ksh30,000 ($375) for each person killed to Kshs1 million ($12,500).
"We want to congratulate the government for communicating to all and sundry that wildlife conservation in the country is the business of everybody," said Born Free Foundation's regional director Winnie Kiiru.
The anti-hunting lobby, operating under the auspices of the Kenya Coalition for Wildlife Conservation and Management, had threatened to go to court if the president assented to the bill.
They had said Kenya's wildlife should be conserved because of the role it plays in sustaining the country's Ksh28 billion ($350 million)-a-year tourism sector.