The German Action Network to Stop Small Arms (DAKS)
“Small Arms” – The Dimension of a Global Threat
The worldwide distribution of so-called “small arms ans light weapons” at the beginning of the 21st century presents one of the greatest challenges to the international community of states and to civil society. “Small arms” – pistols, rifles, machine guns, landmines and similar weapons which can be carried and deployed by one or two people – play a major role in the almost 50 civil and other wars which are fought all over the world and bring violence, death and suffering above all to the civil population. In addition, “small arms” are often the tools of the perpetrators of human rights violations, which are still on the daily agenda of many states.
Throughout the world there are about 500 million small and light weapons in use. Ninety percent of the dead and wounded in wars and civil wars today are connected with the use of these weapons. They are produced primarily in the industrial countries and in general are exported legally to military and police units all over the world. In addition, small arms land by means of illegal arms trade and as war booty in the hands of guerilla units, militia and child soldiers.
Millions of small arms circulate uncontrolled from one battleground to the next battleground and between the parties of conflict. They contribute sustainably to the destabilisation of democratically elected governments and to the maintenance of fake democracies and dictatorships. In addition, small arms contribute to the violation of human rights, of humanitarian international law and to war crimes and hinder a sustainable development in many countries.
The Federal Republic of Germany belongs to the leading producers, exporters and license distributors of small arms: 7 to 10 million G3-rifles from the Oberndorf company Heckler & Koch, owned presently by Royal Ordnance in Great Britain, and its 15 foreign license holders are in use today. An unknown number of victims is being maimed or killed because of the deployment of these rapid-fire weapons alone.
The German army has been equipped with the G3-follow-up rifle G36. The German government scrapped a certain part of the 400 000 surplus G3 rifles, others got modernized and are in use in the Afghanistan War now. These old stocks must, as promised, be eliminated completely and should not be exported under any circumstances. Initial exports of the new G36 and the release of a license to Spain and Saudi-Arabia (they built a whole G36-production facility there!) are grounds for fear of a similar development as with the G3.
Legally and illegally distributed small arms in private possession, as well as hunting and sporting weapons, whose number in Germany alone is estimated at 10 million, present a further potential threat.
The Goals of DAKS
The members of DAKS will work hard against the causes and effects of the proliferation of small arms °X each within the framework of his/her specific tasks and area of engagement. With its activities DAKS should
- contribute to the prevention of violence and deescalation of conflict,
- prevent the further export and granting of licenses for small arms and ammunition,
- contribute to the elimination of the destructive effect of small arms upon a sustainable development.
DAKS pursues among others the following concrete goals:
- prohibit the transfer of small arms and light weapons and ammunition which can contribute to the violation of human rights, of humanitarian international law or to the perpetration of war crimes;
- establish internationally binding regulations for the reduction and control of production, trade, selling, licensing, deployment and final destination of small arms and ammunition;
- introduction of international mechanisms for the effective marking and tracing of small arms and ammunition;
- public control and the drastic limitation of further exports and the distribution of licenses for German-made small arms (such as the G36 of Heckler & Koch) and ammunition;
- establishment of extensive transparency for all German exports of small arms, ammunition, weapons components and ammunition parts as well as their producing capacities and substitutive parts. In addition, the enumeration in the armaments export report with an exact description (size of the shipment, producer and supplier, exact recipient, a secure final destination);
- public surveillance of the scrapping of worn-out surplus stocks of small weapons in Germany (G3 and others);
- prevention of the export of facilities or know-how for the production of small arms and light weapons and ammunition (for example, the firm Fritz Werner);
- inventory, better control and limitation of the stocks of small arms in private ownership, for example hunting and sporting weapons in Germany.
DAKS Points of Emphasis
- DAKS wants to sharpen the consciousness of the public for the small arms problem with information and activities and win public support for its matter of concern.
- DAKS will turn to political decision makers and lawmakers with intensive and direct lobby work in order to reach the mentioned goals.