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The Transparency Barometer

Assessing and comparing national reports on small arms exports and reporting under multilateral instruments is complicated as their formats differ widely: from a few pages of statistics to several hundred pages of text and tables. The Small Arms Trade Transparency Barometer seeks to answer the question : how useful is the data provided for understanding a country's small arms exports?

In order to assess countries’ transparency of their small arms exports, the  Barometer takes into account:

  • national arms export reports, including national contributions to the EU Annual Report on military equipment exports as well as submissions to the SEESAC Regional Report;
  • Arms Trade Treaty initial and annual reports;
  • national reports on the implementation of the UN Programme of Action and International Tracing Instrument;
  • submissions to the UN Register of Conventional Arms (UN Register); including submissions to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE); and
  • submissions to the UN Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade).

 The Transparency Barometer uses the following seven parameters to assess transparency and for scoring purposes: (i) timeliness, (ii) access and consistency, (iii) clarity, (iv) comprehensiveness; (v) deliveries, (vi) licences granted, and (vii) licences refused.

It is important to stress that the Transparency Barometer evaluates the provision of information on small arms exports and does not seek to independently verify the veracity of that information. In other words, it assesses the quantity, precision, and usefulness of the data made publicly available by countries, but not its accuracy.

Because of its focus on small arms and light weapons exports, the Barometer cannot be used as a general measure of transparency for all arms exports. It includes only countries that have exported small arms and light weapons, their parts, accessories, and ammunition of a value equal to or greater than USD 10 million on at least one occasion since 2001.

The 2019 edition of the Transparency Barometer reviews information on trade activities that states carried out in 2016 and made public during the course of the following calendar year. It identifies Switzerland (21.25 out of 25 points), Germany (19.50), the Netherlands (19.50), Serbia (18.25), and the United Kingdom (18.25) as the most transparent of major exporters. The average score of all evaluated countries in the 2019 Barometer is 12.30. This rather low average means that the vast majority of states, including those scoring better than average, still have some way to go before achieving full transparency in their export reporting.

Transparency Barometer

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