Vienna, 7 December 2006 - "The excessive accumulation and uncontrolled proliferation of small arms and light weapons has been a problem of global dimensions for a long time. They exacerbate the threat to peace and security in many crisis areas of the world. Excessive supply and a lack of control often facilitate the outbreak of internal conflicts, particularly in states with an unstable security situation," said State Secretary Hans Winkler today on the occasion of the formal ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Wassenaar Arrangement, stressing the importance and necessity of effective export controls.
In 1996, the Secretariat of the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies started its work in Vienna. "Vienna has become an important hub in the international security architecture in recent years. In addition to the Secretariat of the Wassenaar Arrangement, Vienna has long been the headquarters of numerous international organisations that are committed to greater security, disarmament and the non-proliferation of weapons," stated Winkler.
"Small arms and light weapons are regarded as the true weapons of mass destruction of our time. The large majority of the victims of these weapons are civilians, often women and children. More than 500,000 people die annually as a result of these weapons. In view of these facts it is necessary, in an effective and coordinated manner, to undertake all efforts to combat the destabilising, conflict-facilitating effect of the ready availability of different kinds of weapons", said the State Secretary.
Winkler was pleased that all 40 states that are currently participating states of the Wassenaar Arrangement have reaffirmed the importance of effective export controls in a political declaration. "Military weapons should not be in the hands of private individuals. Greater transparency, greater responsibility, and effective controls are necessary and indispensable measures to prevent even more suffering and more victims," concluded Winkler.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Office of the State Secretary
Mag. Katharina SWOBODA
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3469
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-3469