Within the framework of the “Combating the Illicit Trafficking in Arms and Ammunition in Latin America and the Caribbean” project, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America (UNLIREC), in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, carries out a national seminar on ammunition control practices from 13-14 November.

The Seminar brought together different national institutions responsible for the control, regulation and management of conventional weapons ammunition, such as the Department of Control Trade of Arms, Ammunition and Explosives (DCCAE, in Spanish), the Department of Logistics of the National Army, the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol of the National Police of Colombia and the Colombian Military Industry (INDUMIL, in Spanish). International experts from the Ministry of the Interior and Dominican Republic National Police and the Federal Police of Brazil also participated, who addressed the topics of marking and tracing ammunition, respectively.

In Latin American and the Caribbean, the constant supply, availability and proliferation of ammunition to all potential actors who commit violence are a sine qua non for having the highest rates of armed violence in the world. Not only are firearms used more frequently in homicides in Latin America and the Caribbean than in other parts of the world, the same applies to ammunition.

Ammunition control measures are usually less stringent than those for firearms. Even though arms and ammunition are needed for each other to operate, ammunition tends to be less marked, registered, monitored and regulated than firearms, which facilitates their diversion and misuse. The lack of harmonized regulation and limited control over the purchase, sale and transfer of small arms ammunition are the main reasons of their diversion to unauthorized users. Diversion often occurs due to transfers without proper controls, unauthorized re-transfers or leaks/robberies/theft to both state and private arsenals. On the other hand, conventional firearms ammunition (with explosive charges) represents an inherent danger to communities given the risk of Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS).

In addition, by their very nature, ammunition is more difficult to track. Curbing the adverse effects of the proliferation of ammunition on human security and economic and social development is only possible if States include ammunition in their arms control policies, with the differential treatment that they require.

During the seminar, international guidelines and recognized good practices on conventional ammunition control were presented, which allowed to discuss relevant challenges and opportunities for the control and regulation of ammunition at the national level. Furthermore, this space allowed national authorities with responsibilities for ammunition control to discuss needs and priorities for safe and responsible ammunition management, and, if necessary, open a space for cooperation and mutual coordination.

The implementation of this project is possible thanks to the financial support of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.