Monitoring UN Arms Embargoes: Observations from Panel of Experts, by Emile LeBrun and Christelle Rigual, November 2016. Occasional Paper No. 33.Download (275.63 KB)
A Guide to the UN Small Arms Process: 2016 Update, by Sarah Parker with Marcus Wilson, June 2016. Handbook No. 2 (2014 edition available in French)Download (1.8 MB)
Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction
The Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction (RASR) Initiative is a long-term, coordinated, regional approach to address the threats posed by excess, unstable, loosely secured or otherwise at-risk stockpiles of conventional weapons and munitions.
» Learn more about the RASR Initiative
‘Control’ in this context means ensuring that weapons and ammunition are held for approved purposes by individuals or groups which, in the judgement of relevant authorities, can be trusted not to misuse them. Control efforts confront a series of problems. One is the remarkable longevity of small arms. If stored carefully, several decades may pass before the original weapon becomes unusable, but its component parts—recycled in newer weapons—may last even longer.
Small arms often pass through many hands before the end of their lives, further complicating control efforts. This life cycle begins with manufacture and moves on at some stage to possession, but need not end with first possession. Domestic and international transfer, storage (stockpiling), and final disposal (destruction) may all feature in the small arms life cycle. Most regulatory regimes are designed to maintain control over weapons and ammunition during a specific part of this cycle, but measures such as marking, record-keeping, and tracing intervene at several different stages.
The first phase in the life cycle of a small arm or light weapon—and the first opportunity for regulation—is manufacture.
Domestic controls governing the possession, ownership, carrying, and use of firearms are prevalent worldwide. They are typically designed to limit access to these weapons to responsible users, thus reducing the risks of unlawful violence. Safe storage requirements limit the risk of theft and accidents.
The secure management of national arms and ammunition stockpiles is instrumental in curbing proliferation risks. This includes the responsible disposal—preferably through destruction—of weapons surplus to national requirements.
International transfer controls govern the export, import, transit, and trans-shipment of small arms, light weapons, and their ammunition from, to, or across national territory. They include procedures for authorizing the transnational movement of weapons (such as licensing criteria) and for preventing the diversion of arms shipments to unauthorized end users (such as end-user certification and verification).
Although it is an intrinsic part of the small arms trade, arms brokering remains largely unregulated. Research has highlighted, however, the crucial role that illicit brokers and associated actors play in small arms proliferation, especially in the world’s most strife-torn regions—exploiting gaps in national laws and focusing their activities on states with weak export controls and enforcement.
Weapons collection and destruction involves the recovery and secure disposal—preferably through destruction—of small arms and light weapons from civilians, gang members, ex-combatants, and other groups. A specific type of control measure, it is typically integrated into broader programmes aimed at building peace and reducing violence in post-conflict and non-conflict settings.
Small arms tracing, dependent on adequate marking, record-keeping, and cooperation, allows concerned governments and organizations to identify—and potentially disrupt—sources of supply to criminal groups, rebel forces, and other undesirable end users.