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UN chief calls for global disarmament

February 26, 2018

With global arms sales rising, the UN chief has urged more "direction to the global disarmament agenda." He warned that initiatives have been abandoned while "military power is glorified."

Confiscated weapons in Argentina
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Marcarian

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday announced a "new initiative" to encourage global disarmament at the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

Arms sales have increased after years of decline, according to a report on the global arms industry published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) last year.

Read more: UN's Arms Trade Treaty 'too weak to make a difference'

Arms trade thriving

  • Guterres said that "global arms trade is thriving in a way not seen since the Cold War."
  • Initiatives aimed at decreasing the size of militaries across the world have "been abandoned," he noted, while "military power is glorified."
  • He warned of new threats likely to emerge from technological developments, including lethal autonomous weapons.
  • He called for "greater impetus and direction to the global disarmament agenda," saying Japanese diplomat Izumi Nakamitsu will consult with UN member states on a wider strategy.

Read more: 'Killer robots': autonomous weapons pose moral dilemma

Infographic showing share of global arms sales in 2016

Why are arms sales growing: The SIPRI report showed that growth was linked, in part, to increased production from armaments groups, particularly in the US. In Germany, arms manufacturers witnessed greater demand for their products in Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

What is the UN doing about it: Since 2013, more than 100 countries have signed the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which aimed to regulate the trade of conventional weapons. However, human rights groups and arms monitors have criticized the implementation of the treaty, citing a lack of transparency and weak oversight. For example, Germany sold weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE until last month despite their involvement in a gruesome war in Yemen.

Read more: German arms exports: What you need to know

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.ls/aw (Reuters, AFP)

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