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Disarmament: A Basic Guide

Fourth Edition

image of Disarmament: A Basic Guide

Conceived as a comprehensive introduction to a field central to the work of the United Nations, Disarmament: A Basic Guide aims to provide a useful overview of the nuanced challenges of building a more peaceful world in the twenty-first century. It was written with the general reader in mind and it strives to be accessible without downplaying the complexity of the issues it explores. This fourth edition includes updated figures, tables and treaty statuses; new analysis of the key developments since 2012; discussion of two recently agreed legal instruments, the Arms Trade Treaty and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; and a new chapter on emerging threats from cyber weaponry, unmanned combat aerial vehicles and lethal autonomous weapons systems.

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Conventional arms and the arms trade

The conventional weapons category includes a diverse range of weapons, perhaps more easily defined by what they are not (nuclear, chemical and biological weapons— the “weapons of mass destruction”) than what they are. In practice, conventional weapons are commonly understood to include devices capable of killing, incapacitating or injuring mainly (though not exclusively) through explosives, kinetic energy or incendiaries. Conventional weapons include, but are not limited to, armoured combat vehicles (personnel carriers and tanks, for example), combat helicopters, combat aircraft, warships, small arms and light weapons, landmines, cluster munitions, ammunition and artillery. (Small arms and light weapons, landmines and cluster munitions will be discussed in more detail in the chapters following this one.)

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