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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 July 2006, 02:28 GMT 03:28 UK
Deal eludes small arms conference
AK-47s
Small arms have killed a million people in the past five years
A UN conference on tackling the global illegal trade in small arms has ended without consensus on future action.

The UN Small Arms Review Conference closed on Friday in New York with no agreed "outcome document".

Activists accused some countries of blocking an agreement and said the forum was a "squandered opportunity".

A recent report said a quarter of the $4bn (2.1bn) annual global small arms trade was illicit and that light arms were killing 1,000 people a day.

Petition

The countries attending the conference were unable to agree a document on the best way to tackle the illegal trade.

Anthea Lawson, of the International Action Network on Small Arms, said: "It's a squandered opportunity. It's preposterous especially when there was so much will from so many countries to do something."

GUN FACTS
Eight million guns made every year
800,000 destroyed annually
25% of $4bn annual global small arms trade is illicit
Guns used in 60-90% of direct-conflict deaths in 2003
6% of suicides and 40% of homicides involve guns
Source: UN Small Arms Review Conference

The organisation said a few states had "held hostage" those who wanted to tackle the global crisis.

A consensus document would have required all nations to agree on every element.

A call to tighten controls on international arms transfers was backed by 115 governments, Ms Lawson said, but the formal adoption proved impossible.

Nicholas Marsh, of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo, said: "You had a few governments that were holding out and not compromising."

One delegate told Reuters news agency: "There was a total meltdown at the end. You don't know if it was a conspiracy or just a screw-up."

Other delegates said speeches over the two-week conference had taken too long and work on a consensus only began on Wednesday.

Anti-gun activists had pushed for tighter controls on the small arms trade with their Control Arms campaign - backed by the inventor of the infamous AK-47 rifle, Mikhail Kalashnikov.

The campaign presented a petition containing one million signatures from 160 countries - representing the number of people killed by guns since the last UN conference on small arms in 2001.


SEE ALSO
Annan warns of 'violence culture'
26 Jun 06 |  Americas
Kalashnikov backs weapons control
26 Jun 06 |  Americas
AK-47: Iconic weapon
05 Dec 05 |  Europe
Bullets 'flooding Baghdad market'
15 Jun 06 |  Middle East
Somalia - where the gun rules
09 Feb 05 |  Africa

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