Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW)
The increasing number of internal conflicts and the high rate of violence and crime in post-conflict situations are closely connected to destabilising accumulations and transfers of small arms and light weapons (SALW). Accumulations of SALW might not trigger the conflicts themselves, but these weapons considerably increase the probability of violent escalations in situations likely to result in a crisis. Over 90% of the victims of acts of violence associated with SALW are civilians, out of which 80% are women and children. Claiming approximately 500.000 victims each year, SALW are increasingly referred to as the "real weapons of mass destruction".
Austria is committed to containing the atrocious effects of these weapons through decisive action in all relevant UN bodies (in particular the UN-Programme of Action against the illicit trade in SALW, passed in 2001) as well as in other multilateral fora. The Fourth Biannual Review Conference of the UN-Programme of Action, held in New York in spring 2010, confirmed the hitherto existing priorities of this programme.
In addition, Austria strives to help directly by means of individual contributions, in particular in Africa, the continent most heavily affected by the challenges posed by SALW. The projects funded by Austria aim – inter alia – at building capacities for the combatting (the illegal trade of) SALW in West Africa, the fight against illicit brokering in SALW in Africa and the development of an arms control treaty in Central Africa. Furthermore, Austria supports the destruction of SALW and their ammunition in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Albania.