Small Arms and Light Weapons

1/20/2016 Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Supervision or regulation of ownership and use of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) become a matter of urgency because the number of victims to SALW is considerably higher than any other weapons. Since the end of the Cold War, the issue of SALW has increased dramatically, under various local and inter-state conflicts.

In general, small arms include a wide variety of weapons, ranging from handgun to Man Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS). Although there is no agreed definition of the term, small arms has so far been understood as a portable weapon with ammunition designed for individual use. Included in this is the pistol; rifle and carbine; assault weapons; and light machine guns.

Light weapons, on the other hand, are heavier and larger than small arms and designed to be used by a small team or crew personnel. Included in this are man-portable rockets; light artillery; as well as anti tank, planes, or fortification weapon system/munitions. Light weapons could also include heavy machine guns, grenade launcher (hand-held under-barrel and mounted grenade launcher), MANPADS, portable anti-tank and rocket launcher systems and mortars under 100 mm caliber. Light weapons are ubiquitously manufactured, easily concealed, and require little maintenance or training to operate.


Unlike various disarmament and non-proliferation regimes in the field of WMD (weapons of mass-destruction / WMD - nuclear, biological and chemical), to date there has been no multilateral arrangements which governs SALW and other conventional weapons in comprehensive manner. Despite such fact, however, UN member countries has successfully paved a course of action for combating the illicit trade in small arms and small caliber (Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects / POA).

Since the establishment of the PoA in 2001, UN member countries has conducted five Biennial Meeting of States (BMS) i.e. 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2014, together with the Review Conferences in 2006 and 2012 to see the implementation of UN countries.

Other prominent issues related to SALW is the objection of certain countries against restrictions on civilian possession of weapons and prohibition of the transfer of SALW to non-state actors. Such objection reflects the heavy influence exerted by arms industries through their respective governments for the continued existence of the lucrative arms industries.

Indonesia's Position

Indonesia places great interests on having an international framework to prevent the illicit trade of SALW. Indonesia's long coastline and geographical features, as well as security challenges in terms of local conflicts in some areas (both actual and potential), makes Indonesia highly vulnerable to the illicit trade in SALW. Frequent findings of weapons of foreign origins in the hands of armed groups in the past clearly indicates such potentialities.

With regards to the implementation of the PoA (Plan of Action), Indonesia regularly produces national report concerning national point of contact, legislation and regulation, stockpile management, collection and disposal, implementation at the regional level, as well as the challenges related to the implementation of the PoA, training and education.

In terms of cooperation, Indonesia supports the efforts of raising inter-state cooperation and assistance in the prevention of illicit trafficking of SALW to enhance capacity building. Furthermore, Indonesia supports the efforts of international cooperation in combating the illicit trade in SALW and encourages the establishment of a mechanism at the regional or sub-regional level, in the aspects of trans-border customs, cooperation, and exchange of information among law enforcement agencies, as well as border and customs.

Indonesia has several laws governing the ownership, licensing, and banning possession of firearms, such as Law No. 8 1948; UU no. 12 in 1951; UU no. 20 in 1960; and Law No. 2 in 2002. Each branch of Indonesia's Armed Forces and the National Police has standards in arms stockpile management. Nevertheless, Indonesia has yet to have comprehensive legislation governing the aspects of registration, marking and tracing, transfer, and brokering in procurement. Indonesia therefore still in need of a law to regulate the abovementioned matters comprehensively.