Arms trade: a humanitarian perspective

Armed conflict—and the constant threat of war or armed violence—has become both the cause of and response to this growing arms trade. However, it is clear that continued investment in arms is not making the world safer. Weapons cannot address the main threats people all over the world are facing today, such as natural disasters, increased food prices, and lack of adequate health care, education, and a clean environment. Yet these threats are aggravating arms races and weapons development.

The arms trade poses an undeniable threat to the protection of human rights. This is particularly true for women’s human rights, as military spending is an investment not only in the tools of war, but also in the creation of a negative masculine cultural identity, inherently linked to the use of violence as a means of conflict resolution. As a result, it undermines gender equality, facilitates gender-based violence, and fosters ideas of “protective men” and “passive women”.

It is clear that women must participate meaningfully in all peace and justice processes. The gendered dimension of arms, the arms trade, and conflict experiences must be reflected and acted on in a way that promotes equality, rather than upholding patriarchal norms through unfair distribution of political power and economic resources in post-conflict societies.