SALW and Protection of Children

September 1, 2011
The impact of small arms and light weapons on children is a violation of fundamental human rights and constitutes a major security threat, both for children and adults as well as for the community as a whole. The Forum recognises that the impact of small arms and light weapons on children is a global problem and that small arms act as a multiplier of violence impacting on children, both directly and indirectly. During conflicts, small arms and light weapons devastate children’s lives and these firearms cause the vast majority of casualties’ among children both during and after the conflict. The revalence of child soldiers, possessing and routinely using firearms, is just one example of the negative impact that these weapons have on children. Generations of children have been physically traumatised and emotionally affected through the prevalence of small arms in conflicts. Even after the resolution of the conflict a culture of violence often remains and weapons are seen as a requirement for economic survival. A cycle of crime and violence can then develop with children been constantly exposed to small arms and light weapons within their own homes and communities. The Forum is engaging with parliaments and parliamentarians across all regions to jointly address these challenges, and to ensure that we place the protection of children firmly within the Small Arms and Light Weapons agenda. We hope that this handbook will provide parliamentarians with background information that they may need to take an effective parliamentary interest in this important national and global issue. The central question is always what to do with this situation. The first response should be from the arms-producing countries on the measures to be taken to better control production and trade of weapons. The second response is the commitment of the different nations, creating comprehensive policies of Security and Coexistence, in which it is important to regulate and limit the proliferation of arms as well as to prevent violence and strengthen peaceful coexistence. Preventing violence involves the generation of more and better opportunities for youth and children, by increasing the educational training, access to the arts, health, recreation, employment opportunities and especially by not excluding them. This presupposes a commitment to enhancing and improving the functioning of state institutions to meet these obligations to ensure and promote the rights and obligations of children.
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