Trip Information Page | Interactive Travel Map | Text the SecretaryAbout the Author: Charles Stonecipher is a Program Manager from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.
When Secretary Clinton visits the Philippines November 12-13, she will be consulting with officials from one of our most important allies in East Asia. On the security front, the United States and the Philippines have successfully cooperated in recent years on a joint effort to destroy thousands of excess firearms, keeping them out of the hands of criminals and terrorist organizations across the region.
In 2008, we partnered with our colleagues in Manila on a $270,000 project to safely dispose of nearly 37,000 surplus small arms that were no longer needed by its military forces, as well as guns seized by Philippine authorities. This project, along with similar efforts in more than 40 other countries, highlights the U.S. commitment to building new partnerships aimed at confronting shared security challenges worldwide.
Like our well-known efforts under the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action program to help post-conflict nations safely clear landmines and unexploded ordnance, our Conventional Weapons Destruction program has helped make the United States a global leader in efforts to mitigate the illicit trafficking and potentially destabilizing influence of excess small arms, light weapons, and munitions in dozens of countries around the world, as detailed in our annual report on humanitarian demining and conventional arms destruction, To Walk the Earth in Safety.
From 2001 to 2008, the Conventional Weapons Destruction program has worked closely with our partners at the Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency to help countries safely dispose of more than 1.3 million weapons and approximately 50,000 tons of munitions. The United States also has taken part in several regional arms destruction efforts, such as a project led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to destroy 324 surplus shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles in Cyprus earlier this year. These weapons, also known as Man-portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) pose a potential danger to commercial aviation around the world if they fall into the wrong hands.
In addition to working with its international partners to destroy excess and at-risk weapons, the United States also works through diplomatic channels to discourage irresponsible and indiscriminate arms exports; strengthen sanctions against violators of arms embargoes; provide training on export controls and customs procedures; and help countries secure aging stockpiles of conventional arms and munitions which, if warehoused improperly, could threaten surrounding communities or become a target for criminal or terrorist organizations.
The proliferation of illicit conventional weapons in regions of the world suffering from political instability and violent conflict has proven a major obstacle to regional security. The U.S. approach to curbing the flow of illicit small arms and light weapons focuses on practical, effective measures, while always acknowledging the legitimacy of legal trade, manufacture, and ownership of arms. With partners such as the Philippines, we’re working to try and make the world a safer place.