International Small Arms and Light Weapons Transfers: U.S. Policy
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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In recent years attention has been focused by international organizations and nongovernmental organizations in various fora on the issue of international small arms and light weapons transfers SALW to less-developed nations undergoing civil conflicts. Views expressed by these groups have raised the interest of governments in examining the implications of the international trade in such weapons, particularly, illicit trading. International actions to deal with the small arms and light weapons trade generally have developed slowly in view of widely divergent views among nations concerned or affected by this trade, either as a recipient or supplier. Congressional interest in the subject resulted in a mandate to the State Department to provide a comprehensive report addressing significant policy questions regarding the international proliferation of small arms and light weapons. This report, formally submitted to Congress in October 2000, provided the first major overview of key views of the U.S. government on this topic. The United States, while recognizing that nations have a legal right to acquire weapons, including small arms, for legitimate self-defense purposes, also recognizes that there have been civil conflicts in various less developed nations and regions that have been exacerbated by ready access to small arms and light weapons. The U.S. Government wants to deal, in a practical and effective way, with the problem of international small arms and light weapons trafficking in regions of conflict, while continuing to recognize the legitimacy of legal trade, manufacturing, and ownership of arms. This report provides general background on U.S. policy regarding the international trade in small arms and light weapons. It outlines major questions associated with the international trade in these items, and reviews U.S. efforts to assist in controlling the illicit transfers of these items. This report will be revised as developments warrant.
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