Chemical and biological weapons, along with nuclear weapons, are termed as weapons of mass destruction. They are still being developed in some countries, though rarely overtly used by the military forces now. However there are other weapons that kill on a mass scale every year.
Small arms are particularly deadly. The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) estimates there are
- between 60,000-90,000 deaths from small arms in conflicts every year.
- In the Pacific Island nations alone, IANSA estimates that lawfully held civilian stockpiles of small arms include 3.1 million firearms, or one privately held gun for every ten people.
Antipersonnel landmines are still being laid today in war and conflict zones. It is estimated that:
- there are between 15,000 and 20,000 new casualties caused by landmines and unexploded ordnance each year, which means about at least two new casualties per hour.
Similarly, cluster bombs are used in wars, indiscriminately scattering explosives over a wide area. Many of the bomblets or submunitions fail to explode on impact so remain to kill or injure civilians long after conflict.
Australia has been actively engaged in international negotiations around chemical and biological weapons as well as landmines, and have signed treaties which aim to ban all of these weapons. Australia and other nations are currently considering a new treaty that would ban the use of cluster bombs. Small arms remain a big problem in our neighbouring regions.
MAPW actively works to educate the public on these weapons as well as advocate with our government for realistic solutions to these problems.
You can learn more about each of these weapon types and our work on these by clicking on the links in the main menu on your left.