Which country has how many battle tanks, combat aircraft and submarines? Where do most heavy weapons systems of a country come from? How many small arms and light weapons are there in a country? Which countries have not signed the two important conventions against anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions?
In three thematic fields, Heavy weapons, Small arms and light weapons, and Landmines and cluster munitions, the module "Conventional weapons" offers answers to these and other questions. The following classes of weapons make up the category of conventional weapons:
Heavy weapons systems are at the heart of modern armed forces—still today—even though today's armies are organized more as flexible, rapidly deployable troops rather than large armoured formations. Small arms and light weapons (SALW) is the umbrella term for firearms with a calibre of up to 100mm. Mortars and rocket launchers also fall under that category. SALW are spread worldwide, are often durable, easy to handle and to transport. The high number of victims of SALW have led to the fact that, because of their global availability and their destructive potential, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called them the “real weapons of mass destruction of our time” (UNDPI, 2006).
The use of landmines and cluster munition has long-lasting, devastating humanitarian consequences. When they detonate, people are blinded, suffer burns, are badly hurt by shrapnel or mutilated. There are two important conventions that aim at reducing the occurrence and the use of anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions (more information on the conventions: Infotext on production and proliferation of landmines and cluster bombs).
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