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27.1.2021 : 5:27 : +0100

Relevant Resources

  • Global Burden of Armed Violence 2015: Every Body Counts, by the Geneva Declaration Secretariat. Published by Cambridge University Press. May 2015.

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  • Global Burden of Armed Violence 2011: Lethal Encounters, by the Geneva Declaration Secretariat. Published by Cambridge University Press. October 2011.

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  • Global Burden of Armed Violence 2008, by the Geneva Declaration Secretariat, September 2008.

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Latest Publications

  • Arms Control 2.0: Operationalizing SDG Target 16.4, by Glenn McDonald, Anna Alvazzi del Frate, and Moshe Ben Hamo Yeger. Briefing Paper, October 2017.

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  • Gaining Perspective: The UN Programme of Action’s Sixth Biennial Meeting, by Glenn McDonald. Briefing Paper, September 2017.

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  • Web Trafficking: Analysing the Online Trade of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Libya, by N.R. Jenzen-Jones and Ian McCollum, April 2017. Working Paper No. 26 (also available in Arabic).

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  • Measuring Illicit Arms Flows: Ukraine, by Anton Martyniuk. Briefing Paper, April 2017 (also available in Ukrainian). 

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Globally, around 44 per cent of all violent deaths involve the use of firearms. This translates into over 203,000 of the more than 508,000 people who lost their lives annually to violence between 2007 and 2012. And while nobody knows for certain how many small arms are present in the world, the Small Arms Survey estimated that there were 875 million small arms present as of 2010, of which 75 per cent are in the hands of civilians. These weapons can pose enormous threats to civil society and regional stability.

Indeed, the illicit proliferation of arms and ammunition is a primary driver of modern armed conflicts. This is true even in countries that are ‘at peace’, but where the presence of illicit arms can contribute to high levels of violence.

In September 2015 UN member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which replaced the Millennium Development Goals (2000–15) with a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 related targets. SDG 16 explicitly links development to peace, justice, and strong institutions, with Target 16.1 aiming to ‘significantly reduce all forms of violence and related deaths everywhere’ and Target 16.4 making the weapons component of this relationship clear: ‘By 2030, significantly reduce illicit … arms flows.’ Furthermore, SDG 5 promotes gender equality, with Target 5.2 aiming at eliminating all forms of violence against women. Such violence is exacerbated by the worldwide proliferation of small arms.

As German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier noted in October 2015, a global partnership to combat the proliferation of small arms and light weapons is one of the keys to the potential success of the 2030 Development Agenda. The alignment of global policy agendas (disarmament; development; and women, peace, and security) with efforts to more effectively control small arms represents an important opportunity for states to coordinate strategies and collaborate in controlling illicit small arms. By strengthening policy development, programming, and political engagement, states can reduce the burden of armed violence on communities, combat violent extremism, and limit or reduce sustained urban violence.