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Annan:  Small Arms Proliferation Hurts Children - 2001-08-02

The United Nations Security Council is discussing the proliferation of small arms - continuing a debate started last month in a two week U.N. conference.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annanm Thursday welcomed the continuing discussion about the problem of small arms sales and their connection to regional conflicts around the world. Mr. Annan told the Security Council the unregulated spread of small arms is especially harmful to children.

"The glorification of guns also sends children a terrible message - that nonviolent solutions are unworkable and unrealistic, and that power is to be found not in one's skills or intellect, but by intimidation or inflicting harm on others," Mr. Annan said. "The fact that small arms require such minimal training has surely played a role in the recruitment of some 300,000 child combatants around the world."

The secretary general expressed satisfaction with last month's U.N. small arms conference. Mr. Annan said that despite a wide diversity of views on the subject, countries which participated were able to draft a resolution he believes will help curtail the illegal trade in small arms and light weapons.

Other participants in the Security Council debate Thursday echoed the secretary general's concerns about the relationship between unregulated sales of small arms and the role of children in regional conflicts.

Representatives from the United States, Jamaica, and Bangladesh were among those who stressed the need for the Security Council to continue monitoring the issue.

The Security Council debate is sponsored by Colombia, which holds the rotating chair of the Council this month. Colombia also was closely involved last month in the U.N. conference on the proliferation of small arms.