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The rise of the International Arms Trade

The rise of the International Arms Trade

The arms trade is the international buying and selling for profit of weapons and other commodities designed for military use. Levels of arms transfers have risen rapidly over the past five or so years, with the value of arms transfers in 2010 exceeding $55 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

According to the United Nations, there are 639 million small arms in the world and they cause 500,000 deaths a year, greatly exceeding the toll of the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Governments bear primary responsibility for ensuring that transferred arms are not used to exacerbate conflicts or contribute to violations of human rights and humanitarian laws. However, there are no internationally agreed standards to ensure that governments comply, and the use of private intermediaries means that the arms trade is extremely difficult to monitor and control.

More ways to take action

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