The AK-47: The World's Favorite Killing Machine

Published: 26 June 2006

Report from Control Arms campaign: Oxfam International, Amnesty International and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA)

Kalashnikov assault rifles are the most widespread military weapons in the world. It is estimated that there are between 50 and 70 million of them spread across the world’s five continents. They are used daily by soldiers, fighters, and gang members to inflict untold suffering in many countries.

The spread of these weapons continues largely unchecked by governments, threatening the lives and safety of millions as weapons fall into irresponsible hands. More than ever, the Kalashnikov rifle is the weapon of choice for many armies, militias, armed gangs, law enforcement officials, rebels, and other private actors who abuse fundamental human rights and operate beyond the international humanitarian law parameters laid down by the Geneva Conventions and other relevant international law.

The proliferation of, and ease of access to AK-47 and similar assault rifles around the world, more than any other small arm or light weapon, continues to result in mass suffering, with no end in sight.

In particular, four concerted measures by governments to address this issue would be a life-saving step forward. These measures should be taken without delay:

  1. Adopt tough global standards on arms transfers.
  2. Control licensed production.
  3. Secure existing stockpiles.
  4. Address the demand for weapons.