From the Introduction: Multilateral efforts to deal with the human, social and economic costs of armed violence have been controversial, and the July 2006 conference to review the implementation of the Programme of Action ended without agreement on a final document. But in spite of this, the resources devoted to tackling the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons have grown considerably: according to the best estimate, more than $600 million has been devoted to the issue since the late 1990s by a wide range of states and multilateral agencies. While perhaps little relative to such global scourges as HIV/AIDS, this investment ensures that the issue of armed violence remains high on the international agenda.

This paper will show how and where this investment is making a difference by examining the small arms and light weapons problématique from several angles. The first section will discuss the different human security dimensions of the small arms issue, and highlight key points of debate or uncertainty. The second section will present briefly the contemporary policy challenges, dividing these into first generation and second generation measures.  The third section will examine the institutional and multilateral capacity for tackling these challenges, distinguishing between conventional diplomatic and public policy approaches.