RICR No. 835

Arms availability and violations of international humanitarian law

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The massive influx of weapons into already unstable regions, where they are sometimes sold for a pittance, justifies grave doubts about respect for humanitarian standards. Such proliferation sets in motion a vicious circle in which people arm themselves out of fear for their safety, thus further destabilizing the situation, which is soon governed by the law of the jungle. At that point, any and all standards are ignored. The result: tension, unrest, violence, even armed conflict, all of which is extremely detrimental to any effort to foster respect for international humanitarian law. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which monitors compliance with that law, cannot stand idly by. Its President therefore voiced the organization's concern to the 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, held in 1995, and reminded governments of their responsibilities.

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