Conventional weapons matters are addressed across a range of multilateral fora, including in frameworks dedicated to specific weapon types and in bodies that address humanitarian impact. Some conventional arms-related matters have been taken up through the General Assembly.
Inadequately managed stockpiles of ammunition encompass both safety and security challenges, namely the risks of unplanned explosions and illicit diversion. Unplanned explosions of ammunition stockpiles can have disastrous humanitarian and environmental consequences, while diversion of ammunition to illicit markets fuels insecurity.
A concern arising from an increasing urbanization of armed conflict is the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Explosive weapons with wide-area effects can cause indiscriminate and disproportionate harm when used in populated areas, entailing devastating humanitarian impacts, including increased civilian casualties. Since 2009, the Secretary-General has called on parties to conflict to refrain from the use of such weapons in populated areas. In 2019, a Member State-led informal consultative process was launched to elaborate a political declaration to address the humanitarian consequences of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
The UN General Assembly has addressed public and environmental concerns related to the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium (DU) since 2007. International organizations such as the World Health organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency have conducted studies on the potential effects of DU in humans and on the environment, and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation continues to review the latest scientific information on the matter to enable national authorities to mitigate potential risks linked to the use of depleted uranium.
The use of incendiary weapons encompasses two main concerns, namely the degree of suffering and the indiscriminating nature of their use. Protocol III of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons details prohibitions and restrictions in the use of these weapons with a specific focus on protecting civilians.