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International support for ammunition destruction initiatives

The UN Secretary-General reported in 1999 that the UN, supported by donors, had been involved in the safe storage, disposal, and destruction of weapons, but stated that 'the number and scale of such programmes remains small compared with the apparent requirements' (UNGA, 1999, para. 66). In spite of some limited progress there is a huge disparity between even known needs and international donor support. Although there is a growing political awareness of the issue, to date, the international response has been limited in terms of financial support for surplus ammunition stockpile destruction. Significant support has been provided for the destruction of anti-personnel mines (APM) in support of Article 7 of the MBT, and it is likely that this support will continue.27 The United States has funded the destruction of significant quantities of man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS), primarily as part of its counter-proliferation programme.

In terms of wider ammunition stockpile destruction, the donor and international response has been limited because of: (a) the amount of finance required; (b) the fact that it is not a major issue for some donors; (c) other donor mandates not allowing for it; and (d) only a limited number of major donors being engaged in the issue. The most extensive engagements at the operational level have probably been through the UNDP Small Arms Demobilization Unit (SADU)28 and the NATO PfP Trust Fund,29 while the OSCE has primarily been engaged at the political level (OSCE, 2003). A summary of known projects specifically dealing with ammunition stockpile destruction is included in Annexe 3.

It is perhaps not surprising that some, but not all,30 donors have a tendency to provide assistance to states in their own geographical region. Reports by states under the PoA indicate, for instance, that European donor countries give support primarily in Central and Eastern Europe (Kytomaki and Yankey Wayne, p. 111 ). Current levels of assistance must be dramatically increased if the true scale of the problem is to be seriously addressed. This presents challenges in terms of donor—and wider—awareness, increasing understanding of the complexity of the issues involved, and commitment—in terms of both financial and technical resources.

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