Sie sind hier: About Us / Highlights
18.9.2021 : 10:24 : +0200


Video podcast of the media briefing on the launch of the Small Arms Survey 2012: Moving Targets, at the United Nations in New York on 27 August 2012. Authors discuss the flagship publication's key findings at a press conference hosted by the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN.


Small Arms Survey 2012: Moving Targets

The annual value of authorized international transfers of small arms, light weapons, their parts, accessories, and ammunition is at least USD 8.5 billion, according to the Small Arms Survey 2012: Moving Targets. The new figure, the result of a four-year investigation completed this year, is more than double the previous estimate of approximately USD 4 billion, released in 2006.

An expansion in the arms trade is partly responsible for the upward revision. Two important sources of growth are increased spending by US civilians on small arms and their ammunition, and large-scale government purchases of military firearms and light weapons for international and national armed forces involved in fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Better information and more nuanced research methodologies have also played a role in refining the estimate.

The Small Arms Survey 2012 finds that the authorized trade in small arms and light weapons is highly concentrated, with a handful of countries accounting for most of the documented transfers during the 2001–10 period. The 2012 Survey again calculates the top importers and exporters using the most recent published customs data, but poor transparency in state reporting—among both large and small exporters—keeps a great deal of the authorized trade obscure.

‘While state transparency on small arms transfers to and from Europe and North America has been relatively strong, it has lagged in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East,’ said Small Arms Survey Managing Director Eric Berman. ‘Improved transparency from important exporters, such as China and the Russian Federation, as well as states that re-export surplus weapons, would improve our understanding of the sources and means through which authorized arms transfers fuel the illicit trade.’

The 2012 Survey also reports the initial findings of a multi-year project to examine illicit small arms and light weapons, focusing on Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia. One conclusion is clear in all three cases: non-state armed groups are almost always using older-generation weapons. To a great extent, the legacy of state collapse and plundered stockpiles, rather than newer weapon models, appears to determine the arsenals of today’s insurgents. One exception is the significant percentage of Iranian weapons seized from insurgents in Iraq, which were of relatively recent manufacture.

The 2012 Survey includes chapters on firearm homicide in Latin America and the Caribbean, drug violence in selected Latin American countries, and non-lethal violence worldwide,  illustrating that security is a moving target. The goal of curbing small arms proliferation, embodied in the UN Programme of Action, appears similarly elusive. Chapters on illicit small arms in war zones, trade transparency, Somali piracy, and the 2011 UN Meeting of Governmental Experts highlight some of the successes and challenges in this area.

The Survey also includes country studies examining Kazakhstan and Somaliland.

Three full chapters—on authorized transfers of parts and accessories, on non-lethal firearm violence, and on illicit arms in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia—are available for download, along with chapter summaries of all chapters in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.  For all previous editions of the Small Arms Survey (2001–11), all chapters are now available to download in full.

Back to the highlights page


Share this content
Share this content: