On 18 June the EU senior representative for foreign policy and common security, Javier Solana, intervened during the plenary session of the European Parliament on the security strategy for the EU that is being presented at the Salonica Summit today. The debate on the implementation of the UN programme aimed at curbing the circulation of handguns also forms part of this strategy. There were over 500,000 handguns in circulation in the world in 2001. It is estimated that 50-60% of the trade in handguns is legal, even though legally exported weapons often end up on the black market, especially in the developing countries. The above-cited UN action plan “to prevent, combat and eliminate the illegal trade in handguns and small-calibre weapons” provides a series of measures at the national, regional and global level, and regulations and procedures aimed at exercising effective control over the production, importation, transit and export of such weapons. The Plan requires all authorized manufacturers to register and label all weapons, and pledges all states to implement programmes of disarmament and demobilization. An international Conference on the question will be held in 2006; in the meantime biennial meetings are planned between the participating states to review progress on the measures taken. The first will be held in New York from 7 to 11 July.

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