UN urges action against spread of small arms

UNITED NATIONS, United States - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called on world governments to step up arms control, in particular by keeping track of ammunition flows that fuel fighting.

"Deny access to illegal weapons and ammunition and you deny criminals, armed groups and extremists a central means to perpetrate violence, intimidation and harm," Ban told a UN Security Council debate on the proliferation of small arms.

Security Council diplomats are grappling with conflicts in Libya, Yemen and Syria, countries that are awash in weapons that are easily available to fighters.

Ban called on states to enforce arm embargoes and said UN missions can help countries protect their weapons storage sites.

He emphasised that cutting ammunition flows to conflict areas has "an immediate impact" on the fighting and said that when civilians are at high risk, "this should be priority."

Ban also urged countries to sign the Arms Trade Treaty that entered into force in December, requiring governments to ensure their arms exports will not fuel conflict.

Four members of the Security Council -- China, Russia, Jordan, and Venezuela -- have yet to sign.