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28th June an address on behalf of Mikhail T. Kalashnikov was distributed as a working paper among the participants in the 2006 Review Conference on the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.

ADDRESS
of firearms chief designer, inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle,
president of the Union of Russian Armourers,
consultant to the director general
of Rosoboronexport State Corporation,
doctor of technical sciences,
holder of the international title “Person of the 21st century”
Mikhail T. Kalashnikov
to participants and guests of the 2006 Review Conference
on the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons


Dear friends,

The problem of eradication of illicit production and trade in small arms and light weapons, that you are discussing, is critical today as never before. Uncontrolled employment of these weapons in various spots round the globe has caused death of thousands, if not millions, of people. The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has been right calling small arms: ‘weapons of mass destruction’.

To my deep regret, many people were killed with the assault rifle I designed. Myself, I fought at the Great Patriotic War defending my Motherland and was seriously wounded there, and I realise the pain of losing comrades in battle. But what can be compared to the tragedy of innocent victims of terrorists?!

These days my country marks with grief and sorrow the mournful 65th anniversary of the treacherous aggression of the Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union. The Second World War was the greatest bloodshed in the history of mankind. More than 28 million Soviet people perished in less than four years. That is why I developed my reliable, effective and simple weapon as an arm to protect the Motherland. Those were hard years when technical basis was laid for the development of a unique weapon listed in the world’s and Russia’s history of small arms as the 7.62-mm Kalashnikov assault rifle, model 1947.

At present various modifications of my assault rifle are in service with the armies of more than 50 countries. I want to believe that these weapons will always be used to protect peace, security, honour and justice. Indeed, I am truly pleased to hear that new-born babies in many countries are given the name of Kalash as a symbol of freedom gained in struggle for independence and democracy. It hurts me yet to know (and see) that numerous counterfeits bearing my name too often find their way into the hands of terrorists and bandits.

Nearly 100 million units of the AK assault rifle have been manufactured in total during its 60-year history. But only one-tenth of this enormous arsenal has been manufactured legally. All the rest are pirated models and non-licensed imitations. I am convinced that it is unscrupulous industrialists manufacturing pirated samples of Kalashnikov assault rifles and machine guns in breach of law and contrary to conscience, and cynical businessman selling these weapons to anybody, who are to blame. Neither would I exonerate those politicians whose short-sightedness facilitates uncontrolled proliferation of forged small arms all over the world.

In this connection I wish to emphasize once again that such arbitrariness can be effectively stopped by strict stock-keeping and national marking of every ready-made small arms sample, mutual recognition of such marks and data exchange. In my opinion it is a realistic, efficient and inexpensive way of solving the problem.

The end user certificate is also a very important tool as it clearly defines to whom, in what quantity, on what terms, and for what purpose the armament is supplied, and stipulates its non-transfer to third parties.

Finally, it is vital to establish national control over small arms and take concrete steps to strengthen and improve corresponding national laws and legal deeds. At the same time this should in no way belittle efforts undertaken on bilateral, regional and global levels. As a small arms designer, I am not indifferent either to how intellectual property rights for my weapons are observed.

Dear participants in the Conference!

Alfred Nobel made his greatest discovery by inventing the dynamite. However, his invention was applied at will of politicians to bring death to millions of people on this planet. It appears now that the history repeats itself with small arms. I appeal to your wisdom. Remember old saying: Vis pacem - para bellum: if you want peace, prepare for war. No one has yet contested this truth during the centuries-old history of our civilisation. May weapons become a way to defend peace, rights and democracy, rather than a means of terror.

I wish you all good health, successes and fruitful work.

With the best regards,



Mikhail Kalashnikov


28 June 2006
 
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