Breakthrough in international arms control: New Global Framework on ammunition

Cartridges in an ammunition box

Cartridges in an ammunition box, © dpa

18.07.2023 - Article

Illegal ammunition fuels conflict, terrorism, organised crime and extremism. Every year explosions at ammunition depots claim countless lives. A German initiative has now led to a breakthrough in international arms control.

In recent years, Germany has been highly engaged in developing international rules to curb the dangers emanating from conventional ammunition as much as possible. The UN working group focusing on conventional ammunition (OEWG) in New York has now under Germany’s chairmanship adopted the draft Global Framework for Through-life Conventional Ammunition Management.

This sounds very technical but is actually a major breakthrough. These regulations will help save lives and alleviate suffering. Also against the backdrop of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the framework is one of the few rays of hope for an international arms control architecture which is increasingly being eroded.

15 objectives to avoid explosion risks and to contain illegal ammunition flows

Under Germany’s chairmanship the OEWG UN Working Group adopted the draft Global Framework on ammunition in New York
Under Germany’s chairmanship the OEWG UN Working Group adopted the draft Global Framework on ammunition in New York© AA

The Global Framework comprises 15 objectives aiming to reduce risks and covers the various stages in the life-cycle of ammunition from production and transfer to usage and destruction. The objectives are linked to individual measures for example to avoid explosion risks, reduce diversion risks, improve marking and tracing, as well as to collate information and strengthen dialogue on illicitly trafficked ammunition. The international community can only counter these threats together. That is why the Global Framework underscores the importance of international cooperation and support and opens up avenues for future implementation.

The success of the long-standing initiative is rooted in the deep commitment of many countries who transcended political dividing lines to work together. If the 78th United Nations General Assembly adopts the draft enabling the Global Framework to enter into force, this will mark the end of a controversial discussion that has been ongoing for more than twenty years and the closure of a significant gap in global arms control.


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