Global ammunition trade exceeds $4b annually but still not regulated – Oxfam

Global sales of ammunition are worth more than $4 billion per year, aid group Oxfam International said May 30, 2012.

Despite the fast growing trade, the UK-based organization said there is virtually “no regulation” in place to control where the bullets end up.

In its report titled “Stop a Bullet, Stop a War,” Oxfam estimates that 12 billion bullets are produced each year despite poor regulation of the ammunition trade. These bullets are enough to kill nearly every man, woman and child on the planet twice, it added.

The trade in ammunition for small arms is worth $4.3 billion per year, while the trade in firearms and light weapons themselves is worth $2.68 billion, according to the report which was published ahead of this year’s Arms Trade Treaty negotiations in New York, where diplomats from around the world will gather to try and hammer out a new global agreement to regulate the trade of weapons and ammunition.

The report indicated that few countries report on the export of ammunition. “Of the 34 of states that have publicly reported on their arms exports since 2006, 28 did manage to report on ammunition exports as an explicit category including the UK, the US and France,” Oxfam stated.

However, due to the magnitude of the trade, the group argues that regulation through an international treaty is urgently needed to ensure transparent reporting.

Anna Macdonald, head of arms control campaigning at Oxfam, said “Guns are useless without bullets; bullets are what turn guns into lethal weapons. It is absolutely essential that the sale of ammunition is included in the treaty and it is far better regulated. It would be totally irrational to leave it out.”

Oxfam researchers, according to the report found some of the biggest gaps in information related to undocumented ammunition transfers to war-torn countries.

The report says many bullets end up diverted into the hands of armed groups, often prolonging conflicts and increasing the chance of human rights abuses.

By Ekow Quandzie

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