Over 30 years of armed conflict, from the mid 1960s through the late 1990s, left large numbers of small arms and light weapons in Cambodia. Efforts to control small arms were initiated under the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia, which administered the country in 1992–1993. However, arms continued to be distributed among the population until 1998, when fighting between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge finally ended. Concerned that proliferation of small arms was exacerbating crime, threatening prospects for investment and development, and drawing the country into regional terrorism and separatist movement, the government and foreign donors introduced a series of measures to control firearms ownership and stockpiles. The most visible part of these reforms was four major projects to reduce the numbers in circulation through destruction. Between 1999 and 2007, over 207,000 weapons were eliminated. The Cambodian experience shows that programmes to improve control of SALW and reduce their numbers can achieve significant results over a relatively short period of time. While international assistance – in terms of funding and resources – tends to be modest, it can have a considerable impact when supporting national authorities to implement their own policies. International assistance was made especially acceptable by building on existing aid relationships and stressing the greater legitimacy of multi-lateral support.
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