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20.8.2017 : 11:57 : +0200


Recent Publications

  • 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.

    Download (1.18 MB)
  • Measuring Illicit Arms Flows: Ukraine, by Anton Martyniuk. Briefing Paper, April 2017 (also available in Ukrainian). 

    Download (286.46 KB)
  • Measuring Illicit Arms Flows: Niger, by Savannah de Tessières. Briefing Paper, March 2017 (also available in French).

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The trade in small arms, light weapons, and their parts, accessories, and ammunition involves every country in the world. The Trade Update 2016 estimated that international small arms trade by top and major exporters is worth at least USD 5.8 billion. 

The global trade in small arms and light weapons consists of both newly produced weapons and surplus arms that their owners no longer need. Trade in sporting shotguns, sporting rifles, pistols, and revolvers is much greater than that in firearms made to military specifications. A small number of countries dominate this trade; 21 countries are known to have exported at least USD 100 million in a single year between 2001 and 2013.

The Small Arms Survey's annual Transparency Barometer assesses and compares the relative transparency of countries’ export reports.

Many countries, including exporters and importers, serve as transit points, where arms are imported and then shipped on to other destinations.


An analysis of customs data suggests that six countries routinely export small arms worth more than USD 100 million. Forty-three additional countries have exported at least USD 10 million of such materiel in at least one year between 2001 and 2013. The number of major exporters and the value of their activity is likely under-counted.


An analysis of customs data suggests that 18 countries have imported small arms worth more than USD 100 million during a single year for the period 2001 to 2013.

Authorized Trade

The Small Arms Survey has focused extensively on the authorized trade, meaning international transfers that have been authorized by the importing, exporting, or transit states. In 2008, the Survey launched an unprecedented multi-year study of this trade, rigorously assessing each of its five sub-categories: small arms, light weapons, parts, accessories, and ammunition. The results of this study are summarized in various editions of the annual Small Arms Survey. The study culminated in 2012 with a revised estimate for annual value of the entire authorized trade.

Illicit Trafficking

The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons occurs around the globe but is concentrated in areas afflicted by armed conflict, violence, and organized crime, where the demand for illicit weapons is often highest. Arms trafficking fuels civil wars and regional conflicts; stocks the arsenals of terrorists, drug cartels, and other armed groups; and contributes to violent crime and the proliferation of sensitive technology. 

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