A year ago Canada made a gift of 2,500 Canadian-built C7 automatic rifles to the Afghanistan National Army (Chaplin-Thomas & Bilodeau 2008). It was clear that the transfer did not meet the normal criteria for arms transfers, notably, the prohibition on transfers of automatic weapons to states not on the Automatic Firearms Country Control List (AFCCL).
This case of the C7 transfer to Afghanistan highlights the importance of international agreement on an arms transfer treaty to elevate arms transfer standards and constraints into international law—a law by which the Canadian Crown would be bound. In the meantime, it is important for Canada to use this transfer as an opportunity to ensure that practices and procedures in Afghanistan with regard to small arms and light weapons are fully compliant with the requirements of the UN Programme of Action on small arms. The PoA includes commitments to assist states seeking to develop the necessary infrastructure and overall capacity for full compliance. Therefore, Canada should commit to assisting Afghanistan, not only in the management of the weapons received from Canada, but in the responsible management and use of all of the weapons held by Afghan security forces.