MAG works around the world to improve the management of weapons and ammunition and destroy obsolete or dangerous stocks. This aims to prevent unplanned explosions, curtail the uncontrolled spread of small arms and light weapons, and protect civilians from accidents and harm.
But this work also plays a pivotal role in protecting and promoting human rights.
As an expert and humanitarian operator, MAG has published a working paper (read here) highlighting the links between weapons and ammunition management (WAM) and human rights at the Open-Ended Working Group on Conventional Ammunition, a key meeting happening this week which would lead to the first international framework on ammunition.
Establishing effective systems and regulations that implement international norms and guidelines can both ensure responsible handling, storage, management and destruction of weapons and ammunition, and foster safer and more inclusive societies that can respect and advance human rights.
This link begins with the fundamental right to life. Excessive proliferation of weapons increases the risk of armed violence or unplanned explosions, which directly threaten individuals' right to life and security. Proper management and control of firearms and ammunition helps prevent their misuse or mishandling, reducing the potential for violence and preserving the dignity and well-being of all individuals. Similarly, these activities reduce the risk of unplanned explosions at munition sites, which often cause long-lasting humanitarian consequences for people and communities.
Effective weapons and ammunition management can also contribute to peacebuilding efforts and sustainable development. When arms are properly regulated and controlled, it reduces the likelihood of armed conflicts and internal instability. This, in turn, protects the rights of individuals to live in peace, pursue education, access healthcare, and build sustainable livelihoods. By prioritising responsible management, governments can allocate resources towards sustainable human development, rather than on managing the consequences of armed violence or unplanned explosions
Conversely, inadequate management can facilitate human rights abuses and violations. Irresponsible ownership and unregulated transfers can lead to weapons falling into the wrong hands, including criminals and non-state armed groups. This can result in grave violations of human rights, such as extrajudicial killings, forced displacements, and arbitrary detentions. Robust management systems are crucial to prevent the misuse of weapons and protect individuals from such abuses.
Recognising the link between weapons and ammunition management and human rights is crucial for building a just and secure society. Governments, international organisations, and civil society must collaborate to establish robust systems that prevent the misuse of weapons, minimise armed violence and the various consequences of unplanned explosions, and uphold the inherent dignity and rights of all individuals. By striking this balance, we can foster an environment where human rights are protected, and peace and sustainable development thrive.