Small arms proliferation is a symptom of increased intrastate conflicts and is "a problem that is not amenable to simple or quick solution and will be with us for the long term," says Newsom, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs. "The United States and the international community must therefore address the root causes of intrastate conflict and, at the same time, try to stem the supply of these weapons and contain the devastation that they cause." While most arms control efforts focus on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and heavy conventional weapons, small arms and light weapons designed for military use are responsible for most of the killing and injuries, especially of civilians, in the increasing number of intrastate conflicts that have occurred since the end of the Cold War. These weapons include assault rifles, light and heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and individually portable mortars and missiles. The focus of U.S. policy is to achieve agreement by next year on a Protocol on Illicit Firearms and Ammunition Trafficking to the UN Transnational Organized Crime Convention. This protocol is modeled on the InterAmerican Convention Against the Illicit Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, and Other Related Materials initiated by the OAS. Seven OAS member states have ratified the convention (Mexico, Belize, Bahamas, Bolivia, El Salvador, Peru, and Ecuador), and all but four OAS members have signed it. In June 1998 the President transmitted the convention to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent. In a larger sense, small arms proliferation is one of many symptoms of increased intrastate conflicts since the end of the Cold War. The proliferation and use of these weapons in such conflicts is a problem that is not amenable to simple or quick solution, and it will be with us for the long term. The United States and the international community must therefore address the root causes of intrastate conflict and, at the same time, try to stem the supply of these weapons and contain the devastation that they cause. This will require us to begin to integrate small arms concerns into the fabric of our diplomatic relations, as we now do with democracy and human rights. Without sustained, creative attention to both aspects of the problem of intrastate conflict, many of the other problems that we strive to mitigate will become worse.
Responding to the Challenge of Proliferation: U.S. Foreign Policy Agenda: An Electronic Journal of the U.S. Department of State, v.4, no.2, p. 14-15