New Zealand recognises that the misuse and irresponsible transfer of conventional weapons can lead directly to human rights abuses, death and suffering.
We also believe that certain types of weapons should be banned due to the unacceptable harm they cause civilians.
Conventional weapons range from small arms (eg, guns), light weapons (eg, rockets and grenades), and battle tanks to warships and combat aircraft.
Small arms kill close to half a million people every year. New Zealand is concerned that, in the wrong hands, small arms and light weapons can support criminal activities and fuel conflicts in every part of the world.
As part of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, we've supported Solomon Islanders' efforts to collect and destroy small arms after years of conflict (1998-2003), and today the Solomon Islands are virtually gun-free.
Other weapons, like unexploded landmines and cluster munitions (explosive weapons filled with smaller bombs), leave a legacy long after conflict has ended. They prevent access to water, food and trade, and make land unsuitable for cultivation - disrupting efforts by communities to rebuild their lives in peacetime.
Countries such as Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos still suffer the consequences of failed cluster munitions. Of the 270 million sub-munitions dispersed across Laos in the 1960s and 70s, it’s estimated that a third remain unexploded.
New Zealand is party to international agreements that regulate the trade and transfer of small arms and light weapons, and international agreements that ban other types of conventional weapons such as landmines and cluster munitions:
- The Arms Trade Treaty
- Programme of Action
- Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
- Mine Ban Treaty
- Convention on Cluster Munitions