Uneasy pieces

Conflict attracts trafficking and movement of small arms from one place to another. Besides the lack of effective control at the borders, local manufacturing and capture of legal firearms by fighting forces, the proliferation of illicit arms in Nepal is attributed mainly to the decade-old disorder created due to the insurgency. Small arms, weapons designed for individual use, and light weapons manufactured for use by a crew are collectively called SALW. The SALW includes pistols, rifles and potable launchers of missiles. Landmines and explosives are also types of SALW in the broader sense of the term. A large number of SALW, in possession of the state, rebel militia and criminal groups, now present a grave threat to peace, stability and

the people’s safety, especially in the current transition phase that is witnessing a rise in the incidence of criminal activities. No doubt, the government is now faced with a big challenge to recapture and manage the illegal arms.

In this regard, the concerns raised lately by some politicians and conflict management experts is relevant since misuse of such arms is quite rampant in the country. This has led to fresh violations of human rights and weakening of the rule of law. The experts have rightly stressed the need to enact appropriate laws to manage the arms but they should be designed in line with Nepal’s commitment to international covenants. The peaceful resolution of conflict is the right way to curb illicit movements of all small arms, the use of which even by the armed forces must be closely monitored. The level of awareness regarding the purchase, possession and misuse of small arms must be raised and community involvement sought for effective application of the laws governing the SALW regime.