A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Guns are useless without bullets. An Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that does not control ammunition will not achieve its purposes.
Ammunition is bigger business than weapons, with twelve billion bullets produced each year – nearly two bullets for every person in the world. The global trade in ammunition for small arms and light weapons is worth more than the trade in firearms and light weapons themselves: an estimated $4.3 billion a year.
An ATT that does not cover ammunition will fail to achieve what it has set out to do – that is, to help prevent human suffering, armed conflict, and serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights. Several countries are arguing that ammunition should be excluded from the ATT. Some of these countries say the sheer volume of trade makes it too difficult to monitor. This would be a colossal mistake. There are already several ways to track ammunition transfers. Inclusion in the ATT would significantly strengthen these mechanisms and the resolve to implement them. Failure would undermine what best practice already exists.