7 March 2008

UNODC Chief Praises Thailand for Arrest of "Lord of War"

VIENNA, 7 March (UN Information Service) -- Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has praised Thailand for arresting the notorious weapons smuggler Viktor Bout in Bangkok yesterday. Mr. Bout, dubbed "the merchant of death", has been accused of profiting from some of the world's most violent conflicts. "Let him face justice for the destruction that he has inflicted on humanity", said Mr. Costa. "I urge Thailand to ratify the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in order to make it easier to bring criminals of his ilk to justice, for example through mutual legal assistance and extradition". 

Viktor Bout is regarded as a kingpin in the illegal global arms trade. He is believed to have inspired Nicolas Cage's character in the 2005 film "Lord of War".

Firearms are one of the biggest killers on the planet. The vast majority of firearms used in conflicts start out in the legal trade and land up in the illicit market through theft, corruption, poor stockpile management and weak transfer control mechanisms.

UNODC is custodian of the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition (otherwise known as the Firearms Protocol). "I urge Member States to ratify the United Nations Firearms Protocol and implement its measures to stop arms dealers from flooding the world with illicit weapons", said the Executive Director.

Close to one billion guns are in circulation around the world, three-quarters of which are in the hands of civilians. Eight million new guns are manufactured each year, along with billions of units of ammunition, enough to kill everyone in the world twice over. "The Firearms Protocol - which is a powerful, yet forgotten piece of international law - can reduce the threat posed by these weapons", Mr. Costa added. UNODC has launched an initiative called UN.ARM to raise awareness of the problem, increase ratification of the Protocol, and provide States with technical and legal assistance in dealing with the illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms.  

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For further information, please contact:

 Walter Kemp
Acting Spokesman
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060 5629
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-5629
Email: walter.kemp@unodc.org