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Conventional weapons

Conventional arms control

The UK works with other countries through several treaties on conventional weapons to build confidence, ensure security and reduce threats to civilians. These treaties include:

Arms Trade Treaty

In 2006 the UN General Assembly adopted a Resolution calling for an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), to curb the irresponsible transfers of  conventional weapons. In November 2009, plans for this were agreed.

Read more about an Arms Trade Treaty.

Cluster munitions

Unexploded ordnance from cluster munitions can remain in the ground fordecades, threatening the lives of civilians and hampering post-conflictreconstruction and development. Read more about our work on cluster munitions.

Land mines

Young Afghan landmine victim. © Darren McCollester/Getty ImagesThe UK ratified the Ottawa Convention in 1998, prohibiting the use, production and stockpiling of anti-personnel mines.

The UK is also one of the biggest donors for mine action. We contribute around £10m annually to demining programmes in the worst affected developing countries where mines regularly kill, maim and disrupt lives.

These countries include Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. 

Small arms and light weapons

A Palestinian militant shoulders his rocket propelled grenade. © SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty ImagesThere are an estimated 875m small arms and light weapons in global circulation – that’s one gun for every 7 people.

The threat and use of these weapons cause enormous suffering around the world because they:

  • exacerbate conflicts
  • support violent crime and terrorism
  • hamper post-conflict reconstruction
  • make it harder to tackle poverty and sustainable development.

What are we doing to tackle these weapons?

We're implementing the UN Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons. It's important to exchange information and work with states to build their capacity to better manage their stockpiles. We’re promoting better ways of tracing small arms and contributing to projects which destroy excess stocks.

We're also supporting national and regional initiatives to tackle illicit transfers of these weapons. Our earlier work on global guidelines for transfers is now being taken forward as part of our work towards an Arms Trade Treaty.

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