UN High Commissioner for Refugees welcomes new global arms trade treaty

Press Releases, 3 April 2013

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres today applauded the approval on Tuesday by the UN General Assembly of a global arms trade treaty.

"Refugees know the costs of armed conflict better than anyone. For them in particular, as well as the millions more forcibly displaced inside their own countries by armed violence, the adoption of this treaty is badly needed," said Guterres. "The goal for all of us must now be effective implementation."

Around the world, there are at least 15 million refugees plus 26 million internally displaced people. In the vast majority of cases, conflict and armed violence are the causes of their flight.

UNHCR has long urged regulation of the arms trade, as a means of reducing the terrible human cost of the poorly regulated arms trade and the widespread availability and misuse of weapons.

UNHCR held an expert roundtable in 2012, and commissioned a number of studies on persons in flight from conflict and other armed violence, which noted that there has been an increase in the targeting or terrorizing of civilians. A 2011 study, The Global Burden of Armed Violence, has documented that more than half a million people die as a result of armed violence every year, fuelled in many cases by the widespread availability of weapons. Many more suffer horrific injuries and abuses, including rape. Still more are forced from their homes; and the long term effects of such conflict can be devastating on families and communities. The cost of providing shelter, food, water and other basic necessities to these people runs into billions of dollars every year.

Summary Conclusions from UNHCR's expert roundtable are available at: http://www.unhcr.org/50ead0219.html