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7.3.2021 : 21:51 : +0100

Arms Control 2.0: Operationalizing SDG Target 16.4

This new Briefing Paper from the Small Arms Survey describes how the implementation of international arms control instruments supports the aim of reducing illicit arms flows in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 16.4.

It also focuses on the challenge of measuring progress made in achieving Target 16.4 and related SDGs, noting that the success of both the SDG and conventional arms control processes will largely depend on the extent to which states take advantage of the synergies between SDG indicators, including at the national and regional levels, and reporting under the international arms control instruments. While important potential synergies in reporting and data collection exist, they will remain stillborn unless translated into concrete action.

Key findings:

  • Implementation of the international arms control instruments will underpin achievement of the significant reduction in illicit arms flows mandated by SDG Target 16.4. Measures designed to curb arms diversion, illicit manufacture, and the misuse of transferred arms are all relevant to this objective.
  • Although seizure data, which serves as the foundation of SDG Indicator 16.4.2 and the primary source of information on illicit arms in countries around the world, cannot fully describe the illicit trade, it can still offer a useful window on illicit arms flows, as long as it is sufficiently detailed.
  • Reporting under the international arms control instruments can support the gathering of data for Indicator 16.4.2 and, more broadly, measure progress made in reducing illicit arms flows, whether indirectly, through the provision of information on the implementation of arms control measures, or directly through assessments of the impacts of these efforts.
  • National-level SDG indicators that are based on the arms control instruments can help overcome the limitations of Indicator 16.4.2, which is restricted to the generation of better—albeit incomplete—information on illicit arms flows.

The Briefing Paper was made available in hard copy to participants of the First Committee side event 'Arms Control 2.0: Operationalizing SDG Target 16.4' organized by Sweden and the Small Arms Survey on 23 October in New York.

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