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Global Focus

International Transfer

Small arms control is often weakest where the jurisdiction of one state ends and that of another begins. Weapons shipments can be diverted to unauthorized recipients while en route to a declared destination, or even after they reach the intended end user. Diversion is one problem, irresponsible export practices another. Transparency, which can help bolster confidence in national transfer policies, remains patchy worldwide despite some improvements.

Measures serving to prevent and detect the diversion of small arms shipments include end-user certification and verification as well as post-shipment controls designed to assess compliance with export license conditions. Other elements of effective and responsible transfer control systems include transparent licensing criteria reflecting the state’s international obligations and commitments, the sharing of licensing decisions across government agencies, cooperation among the countries of export, import, and transit, and effective national mechanisms for the investigation, prosecution, and punishment of transfer control violations.

The transfer controls issue has risen to the top of the UN agenda, with the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in April 2013.
   

General

Small Arms Survey Publications

  • Trade Update 2017: Out of the Shadows, by Paul Holtom and Irene Pavesi. September 2017.

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  • What the National Reports Reveal: Trends in UN PoA and ITI Reporting, June 2015. Issue Brief No. 13.

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  • Floating Armouries in the Indian Ocean, May 2015. Research Note No. 52, Armed Actors.

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  • Behind the Curve: New Technologies, New Control Challenges, edited by Benjamin King and Glenn McDonald, February 2015. Occasional Paper No. 32.

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  • Transparency Counts: Assessing State Reporting on Small Arms Transfers, 2001-08, by Jasna Lazarevic, June 2010. Occasional Paper No. 25

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  • Shining a Light on Small Arms Exports: The Record of State Transparency, by Maria Haug, Martin Langvandslien, Lora Lumpe, and Nic Marsh, co-published with NISAT, January 2002. Occasional Paper No. 4

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Other Publications

  • Vranckx, An. 2016. Containing Diversion: Arms End-use and Post-delivery Controls. Brussels: Groupe de Recherche et d'Information sur la Paix et la Sécurité (GRIP).

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  • Frey, Barbara. 2010. Obligations to Protect the Right to Life: Constructing a Rule of Transfer Regarding Small Arms and Light Weapons. In Mark Gibney and Sigrun Skogly, eds. Universal Human Rights and Extraterritorial Obligations. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp 30-54.

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  • Amnesty International. 2008. How to Apply Human Rights Standards to Arms Transfer Decisions. London: Amnesty International. 1 October.

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  • ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross). 2007. Arms transfer decisions: Applying international humanitarian law criteria. Geneva: ICRC. June.

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  • Project Ploughshares. 2007. Towards Global Standards: Regional Experiences in Small Arms Transfer Controls. Edited Papers from an International Seminar. Waterloo: Project Ploughshares. 8 February.

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  • Waltz, Susan. 2007. U.S. Small Arms Policy: Having It Both Ways. World Policy Journal. Summer, pp. 67–80.

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  • Biting the Bullet / Small Arms Consultative Group Process. 2006. Developing International Guidelines for National Controls on SALW Transfers. London: International Alert, Saferworld, and University of Bradford. March 2006.

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  • Biting the Bullet / Small Arms Consultative Group Process. 2006. Developing International Norms to Restrict SALW Transfers to Non-State Actors. London: International Alert, Saferworld, and University of Bradford. January 2006.

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  • Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. 2005. Missing Pieces: Directions for Reducing Gun Violence through the UN Process on Small Arms Control. Geneva: Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.

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  • United Kingdom. 2003. Implementing the UN Programme of Action: Strengthening Export Controls. Lancaster House Conference. Chairman's Summary. London, 14-15 January.

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  • Crowley, Michael, Roy Isbister, and Sarah Meek. 2002. Building Comprehensive Controls on Small Arms Manufacturing, Transfer and End-Use. Biting the Bullet. Briefing 13. London and Washington, D.C.: BASIC, International Alert, and Saferworld.

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  • Gillard, Emanuela. 2000. What's Legal? What's Illegal? In Lora Lumpe (Ed.) Running Guns: The Global Black Market in Small Arms. London: Zed Books.

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Instruments and Documents

  • Council of the European Union. 2008. Common Position defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment. 2008/944/CFSP. 8 December.

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  • WA (Wassenaar Arrangement). 2007. Best Practices to Prevent Destabilising Transfers of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) through Air Transport.

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  • WA (Wassenaar Arrangement). 2007. Updated Best Practice Guidelines for Exports of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW).

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  • WA (Wassenaar Arrangement).  2007. Updated Elements for Export Controls of Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS).

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  • OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe). 2006. Combating the Illicit Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons by Air. Decision No. 7/06. 15 November.

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  • WA (Wassenaar Arrangement). 2006. Best Practice Guidelines for the Licensing of Items on the Basic List and Sensitive List of Dual-Use Goods and Technologies

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  • SICA (Central American Integration System). 2005. Code of Conduct of Central American States on the Transfer of Arms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Material. December. Also available in Spanish.

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  • WA (Wassenaar Arrangement). 2005. End-user Assurances Commonly Used: Consolidated Indicative List.

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  • OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe). 2004. Standard Elements of End-User Certificates and Verification Procedures for SALW Exports. Decision No. 5/04. 17 November.

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  • OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Forum on Security Co-operation. 2004. OSCE Principles for Export Controls of Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems (MANPADS). Decision No. 3/04, 26 May 2004.

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  • Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). 2003. Best Practice Guide on Export Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons. Handbook of Best Practices on Small Arms and Light Weapons. 19 September. FSC. GAL/4/03/Rev 1.

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  • United Nations. A/51/42 Annex I to the Report of the Disarmament Commission Guidelines for International Arms Transfers in the Context of General Assembly Resolution 46/36 H of 6 December 1991. 22 May 1996.

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Further Resources

    Arms Embargoes

    Small Arms Survey Publications

    • Monitoring UN Arms Embargoes: Observations from Panel of Experts, by Emile LeBrun and Christelle Rigual, November 2016. Occasional Paper No. 33.

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    Other Publications

    • Fruchart, Damien et al. 2007. United Nations Arms Embargoes: Their Impact on Arms Flows and Target Behaviour. Uppsala and Stockholm: Uppsala University and SIPRI.

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    • Kirkham, Elizabeth and Catherine Flew. 2003. Strengthening Embargoes and Enhancing Human Security. Biting the Bullet. Briefing 17. London: International Alert, Saferworld, and University of Bradford.

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    • Wallensteen, Peter, Carina Staibano, and Mikael Eriksson (Eds.) 2003. Making Targeted Sanctions Effective: Guidelines for the Implementation of UN Policy Options. Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala University.

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    • Vines, Alex. 2003. Monitoring UN Sanctions in Africa: The Role of Panels of Experts. In VERTIC, Verification Yearbook 2003. London.

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    • Cortright, David and George Lopez. 2002. Sanctions and the Search for Security: Challenges to UN Action. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner.

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    • Brzoska, Michael, ed. 2001. Design and Implementation of Arms Embargoes and Travel and Aviation-Related Sanctions: Results of the 'Bonn-Berlin Process. Bonn: BICC.

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    • Cortright, David and George Lopez. 2000. The Sanctions Decade: Assessing UN Strategies in the 1990s. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner.

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    Further Resources

      Arms Trade Treaty

      Small Arms Survey Publications

      • The Arms Trade Treaty: A Practical Guide to National Implementation, edited by Sarah Parker, August 2016. Handbook No. 4.

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      • Arms Trade Treaty: Model Law. Co-published with the New Zealand Government, October 2014.

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      • The Arms Trade Treaty: A Step Forward in Small Arms Control?, June 2013. Research Note No. 30, Measures and Programmes (also available in Arabic, French,  and Spanish).

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      • Small Arms Transfer Control Measures and the Arms Trade Treaty: A Small Arms Survey Review (2007–10). 2012. Compilation of Small Arms Survey chapters.

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      Other Publications

      • Parker, Sarah. 2015. Practical Disarmament Initiative: Stockpile Management and Diversion Provisions in Selected International and Regional Instruments. Unpublished Briefing Paper. Small Arms Survey with MAG International. Also in French.

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      • McDonald, Glenn. 2013. Worth the Paper? The Arms Trade Treaty. E-International Relations, 17 April.

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      • Oxfam. 2010. National Implementation of the Proposed Arms Trade Treaty: A Practical Guide.

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      • ICRC. 2010. Aide-Mémoire for Participants to the Meeting of Experts on Legal and Political Arguments to Support Effective International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Parameters in an Arms Trade Treaty. Geneva, 27-28 April.

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      • Saferworld. 2008. Making it work: Monitoring and verifying implementation of an Arms Trade Treaty. London: Saferworld.

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      • Parker, Sarah. 2008. Implications of States' Views on an Arms Trade Treaty. January. Geneva: United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.

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      • Parker, Sarah. 2007. Analysis of States' Views on an Arms Trade Treaty. October. Geneva: United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.

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      Instruments and Documents

      • UNGA (United Nations Genera Assembly). 2009. Report of the Open-ended Working Group towards an Arms Trade Treaty: establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms. A/AC.277/2009/1 of 20 July.

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      • UNGA (United Nations General Assembly). 2008. Report of the Group of Governmental Experts to examine the feasibility, scope and draft parameters for a comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms. A/63/334 of 26 August.

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      Further Resources

         
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