The First Committee, one of the main bodies of the General Assembly, enforces disarmament and the non-proliferation of weapons. In 2006, it made huge strides in international security when it adopted resolutions condemning surplus weapons stockpiles and agreeing on deeper international cooperation in the tracing of black market arms. It noted a serious deficit in international trust, especially on issues such as nuclear security. "In today's world, it is almost incomprehensible that conflicts can be solved without confidence-building measures", Committee Chairperson Mona Juul of Norway said, acknowledging that mutual mistrust among States often frustrates some of the Committee's best efforts. Particularly prominent during the 2006 debate was the Committee's unabashed condemnation of nuclear-weapons testing, specifically the one conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which made headlines in October 2006. Many delegates also urged the universal acceptance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Acknowledging the many positive uses of nuclear energy, the Committee continued to defer all non-weapons matters to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but stressed the need for a significant improvement in international nuclear transparency. It also approved resolutions affirming the objective of building nuclear-weapons-free zones in the Middle East and Central Asia.
BUILDING GLOBAL ARMS ACCOUNTABILITY
Tracing of Small and Light Weapons
The steel barrel is made in a deafening factory in Eastern Europe, its sleek casing fitted along an assembly line. A spinning cylinder and a spring trigger appear beside it; it is buffed, packed and closed into a box like thousands before it and thousands after. However, somewhere between its first march on the shoulder of a national guardsman and its final resting place, this weapon is likely to disappear. It will be repackaged and traded for cash, then travel over rugged dirt roads in the back of a truck, becoming one of the world's most dangerous commodities--a silent, untraceable killer--sold to the highest bidder.
In conflict zones around the world, weapons like this make strange bounty for local authorities and peacekeepers. Ranging from handguns to automatics and anti-tank guns, small arms and light weapons (SALW) are a major component of illicit armies and a main target for police. However, for peacekeepers and military officers, confiscating a stock of weapons is hardly a...