Disarmament: A Basic Guide

Third Edition

image of Disarmament: A Basic Guide

International peace and security - and therefore disarmament - stand at the core of the UN mandate. This publication is designed to inform, educate and generate public understanding of the importance of multilateral action, and to rally support for it, in the field of arms limitation and disarmament. Intended primarily for the general reader, this basic guide may also be useful for the disarmament educator or trainer. It is published by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs in collaboration with the NGO (non-governmental organizations) Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security pursuant to the purposes of the United Nations Disarmament Information Programme.

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Conventional arms and the arms trade

The conventional weapons category includes a diverse range of weapons, perhaps more easily defined by what they are not (nuclear, chemical and biological weapons—the “weapons of mass destruction”) than what they are. In practice, conventional weapons are commonly understood to include devices capable of killing, incapacitating or injuring mainly (though not exclusively) through explosives, kinetic energy or incendiaries. Conventional weapons include, but are not limited to, armoured combat vehicles (personnel carriers and tanks, for example), combat helicopters, combat aircraft, warships, small arms and light weapons, landmines, cluster munitions, ammunition and artillery. (Small arms and light weapons, landmines and cluster munitions will be discussed in more detail in the chapters following this one.)

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