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Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites

Since 1979 over 500 events involving unplanned explosions at munitions sites were recorded. The Small Arms Survey has released online detailed findings from its Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS) database, providing information on the location, causes and casualties of each incident.

For up-to-date information, see the Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites pages.

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

'Smart gun' technology

Personalized Firearms and Electronic Safety Devices: Perspectives

To support the conference ‘Smart Technology in SALW Control: Civilian Protection, the UN-POA, and Transfer Control (SmartCon)’ in Berlin on 17-18 June 2013, the Small Arms Survey commissioned a background paper reflecting various perspectives of the ‘smart gun’ debate.

Stockpile Management and Security

The secure management of national small arms stockpiles is instrumental in curbing small arms proliferation. Poor stockpile security is a prime means through which arms and ammunition are diverted from the legal to the illicit markets. Lax security makes theft easy. Corrupt officials may sell or otherwise transfer weapons under their care to criminal groups or rebel forces. Stockpile security is especially precarious in states suffering from violent conflict or weak governance.

In some cases, small arms stockpiles greatly exceed immediate and projected future needs. Surpluses arise for a wide variety of reasons: the end of armed conflict, changing perceptions of threat, the reduction or restructuring of armed forces, changed military doctrines, and the acquisition of new weapons. While it is increasingly acknowledged that surplus small arms are best disposed of through destruction, this remains the exception rather than the rule. In practice, surpluses that are not sold are stockpiled, sometimes for decades.

This section relates to the management, including disposal (destruction), of small arms and ammunition held by governments (national armed forces, police, and other state security forces). The regulation of storage by manufacturers and civilians is covered in separate sections of the website.

   

Small Arms Survey Publications

  • Sustainable Stockpile Management in Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Role of EUFOR Mobile Training Team for Weapons and Ammunition Management, by Jovana Carapic, Prasenjit Chaudhuri, and Pierre Gobinet, October 2016. Working Paper No. 24.

    Download (907.45 KB)
  • Facilitating PSSM Assistance in the Sahel and Beyond: Introducing the PSSM Priorities Matrix, December 2016. Issue Brief No. 18 (also available in French).

    Download (271.55 KB)
  • Checks and Balances: Securing Small Arms during Peace Operations, February 2016. Issue Brief No. 16.

    Download (216.01 KB)
  • Behind the Curve: New Technologies, New Control Challenges, edited by Benjamin King and Glenn McDonald, February 2015. Occasional Paper No. 32.

    Download (1.58 MB)
  • Countering Improvised Explosive Devices, October 2014. Research Note No. 46, Weapons and Markets. 

    Download (797.62 KB)
  • Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS): Excess Stockpiles as Liabilities rather than Assets, edited by Eric G. Berman and Pilar Reina, June 2014. Handbook No. 3

    More information
  • Excess Arms in South Sudan: Security Forces and Surplus Management, April 2014. Issue Brief No. 6.

    Download (1.07 MB)
  • Industrial Demilitarization of Conventional Ammunition, December 2013. Research Note No. 37, Measures and Programmes (also available in BCMS and Bulgarian).

    Download (565.59 KB)
  • Ad Hoc Arsenals: PSSM Practices of Selected Non-state Actors, May 2013. Armed Actors Issue Brief No. 2.

    Download (804.19 KB)
  • Making a Mark: Reporting on Firearms Marking in the RECSA Region, by James Bevan and Benjamin King, a joint publication of Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States, and the Small Arms Survey; with support from the US Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement. April 2013. Special Report No. 19.

    Download (687.73 KB)
  • Costs and Consequences: Unplanned Explosions and Demilitarization
    in South-east Europe
    , by Jasna Lazarević, a joint publication of the Regional Approach for Stockpile Reduction, the US Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, and the Small Arms Survey, November 2012. Special Report No. 18.

    Download (1.82 MB)
  • Capabilities and Capacities: A Survey of South-east Europe’s Demilitarization Infrastructure, by Pierre Gobinet, a joint publication of the Regional Approach for Stockpile Reduction, the US Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, and the Small Arms Survey, April 2012. Special Report No. 15.

    Download (2.43 MB)
  • Buy and Burn: Factoring Demilitarization into Ammunition Procurement, April 2012. A joint publication of the Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction (RASR), the US Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, and the Small Arms Survey. RASR Issue Brief No. 2 (also available in Albanian, BCMS and Bulgarian).

    Download (1.15 MB)
  • Significant Surpluses: Weapons and Ammunition Stockpiles in South-east Europe, by Pierre Gobinet, a joint publication of the Regional Approach for Stockpile Reduction, the US Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, and the Small Arms Survey, December 2011. Special Report No. 13

    Download (2.25 MB)
  • Safer Stockpiles: Practitioners’ Experiences with Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) Assistance Programmes, edited by Benjamin King, April 2011. Occasional Paper No. 27

    Download (965.63 KB)
  • South-east European Surplus Arms: State Policies and Practices, November 2010. The Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction (RASR) Initiative, Issue Brief No. 1 (also available in Albanian and BCMS).

    Download (1.15 MB)
  • The Politics of Destroying Surplus Small Arms - Inconspicuous Disarmament, edited by Aaron Karp, published by Routledge, July 2009.

    More information
  • Conventional Ammunition in Surplus: A Reference Guide, edited by James Bevan, co-published with BICC, FAS, GRIP, and SEESAC with support from the German Federal Foreign Office, January 2008.

    More information
  • The Three Ds: Disposal, Demilitarization, and Destruction of Ammunition, by Adrian Wilkinson, 2006. In Stéphanie Pézard and Holger Anders, eds. Targeting Ammunition: A Primer.

    Download (1.62 MB)
  • Disposal of Surplus Small Arms: A survey of policies and practices in OSCE countries, co-published with BICC, Saferworld, and BASIC, edited by Sami Faltas and Vera Chrobok, January 2004

    Download (884.98 KB)
  • A Guide to the Destruction of Small Arms and Light Weapons: the Approach of the South African National Defence Force, by Sarah Meek and Noel Stott, co-published with the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), 2004.

    Download (696.8 KB)
  • Destroying Surplus Weapons: An Assessment of Experience in South Africa and Lesotho, by Sarah Meek and Noel Stott, co-published with UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), 2003.

    Download (465.3 KB)
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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.

    Download (906.01 KB)
  • U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. 2014. To Walk the Earth in Safety, 13th edn. Washington: U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

    More information
  • Berman, Eric and Mihaela Racovita. 2013. Diversion of Weapons within Peace Operations: Understanding the Phenomenon. GCSP Policy Paper 2013/8. Geneva: Geneva Centre for Security Policy.

    More information
  • Berman, Eric and Pilar Reina. 2012. 'Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites: Concerns and Consequences', in The Journal of ERW and Mine Action. Issue 16.2, July.

    More information
  • Greene, Owen and Elisabeth Kirkham. 2007. Small arms and light weapons controls to prevent diversion: Developing and implementing key programme of action commitments. Biting the Bullet Policy Report. London. Saferworld and University of Bradford.

    Download
  • United States General Accounting Office. 2003. Firearms Controls: Federal Agencies Have Firearms Controls, but Could Strengthen Controls in Key Areas

    Download
  • Greene, Owen. 2000. Stockpile Security and Reducing Surplus Weapons. Biting the Bullet. Briefing 3. London and Washington, D.C.: BASIC, International Alert, and Saferworld.

    Download (141.27 KB)
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Instruments and Documents

  • UNGA (United Nations General Assembly). 2008. Report of the Group of Governmental Experts Established Pursuant to General Assembly Resolution 61/72 to Consider Further Steps to Enhance Cooperation with Regard to the Issue of Conventional Ammunition Stockpiles In Surplus. A/63/182 of 28 July.

    Download
  • OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe). 2008. OSCE Handbook of Best Practices on Conventional Ammunition. Vienna: OSCE.

    More information
  • OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe). 2003. OSCE Document on Stockpiles of Conventional Ammunition. FSC.DOC/1/03. Adopted at the 407th Plenary Meeting of the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation. Vienna: OSCE. 19 November.

    More information
  • OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe). 2003. Best Practice Guide on National Procedures for Stockpile Management and Security. Handbook of Best Practices on Small Arms and Light Weapons. 19 September. FSC GAL/43/03/Rev 3.

    More information
  • Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). 2003. Best Practice Guide on the Definition and Indicators of a Surplus of Small Arms and Light Weapons. Handbook of Best Practices on Small Arms and Light Weapons. 19 September. FSC. GAL/36/03/Rev 3.

    More information
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