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Weapons Collection and Destruction

Efforts to enhance public security by collecting and securely disposing of small arms, light weapons, and their ammunition have a long history, yet have gained increased prominence over the past two decades in the context of broader programmes for the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of ex-combatants, security sector reform, and armed violence prevention and reduction.

The materials in this section pull weapons collection out of a programme-oriented context to examine the issue in broader, sometimes historical perspective, considering such questions as the efficacy of different incentives for the voluntary surrender of weapons.

Another theme is the secure disposal of retrieved weapons. The destruction of collected weapons eliminates the proliferation risks that arise when retrieved arms are, for example, integrated into insecure government stockpiles.

Since weapons collection tends to reinforce the state’s monopoly over the instruments of violence, often there is also a need to pair the measure with others aimed at improving the capacity of the state to provide public security and creating effective safeguards against the abuse of state power.

Readers should consult the stockpile security section of the website for information on the disposal (destruction) of surplus weapons in national stockpiles.

   

Small Arms Survey Publications

  • Secret Stockpiles: Arms Caches and Disarmament Efforts in Mozambique, by Gary Littlejohn, September 2015. Working Paper 21

    Download (1.12 MB)
  • The Politics of Destroying Surplus Small Arms - Inconspicuous Disarmament, edited by Aaron Karp, published by Routledge, July 2009.

    More information
  • The Central African Republic and Small Arms: A Regional Tinderbox, by Eric G. Berman with Louisa N. Lombard, December 2008 (also available in French).

    More information
  • Removing Small Arms from Society: A Review of Weapons Collection and Destruction Programmes, by Sami Faltas, Glenn McDonald, and Camilla Waszink, July 2001. Occasional Paper No. 2

    Download (372.42 KB)
  • United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs (UNDDA). 2001. A Destruction Handbook: Small Arms, Light Weapons, Ammunition and Explosives.

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Other Publications

  • 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
  • Turner, Mandy. 2006. Costs of Disarmament: Cost Benefit Analysis of SALW Destruction versus Storage. Geneva: UNIDIR.

    More information
  • Borrie, John and Vanessa Martin Randin, eds. 2006. Thinking Outside the Box in Multilateral Disarmament and Arms Control Negotiations. Geneva: UNIDIR.

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  • Peartree, C. Edward. 2001. Destroying Excess Small Arms: U.S. Policy and Programs. In U.S. Foreign Policy Agenda Vol 6. No.2, Washington, D.C.: U.S. State Department. June.

    Download (670.79 KB)
  • Godnick, William. 2001. Transforming Attitudes Towards the Tools of Violence: the Arms Exchange Programme in Mendoza, Argentina. Working Paper No. 3. Bradford: Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford.

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  • Hughes-Wilson, John and Adrian Wilkinson. 2001. Safe and Efficient Small Arms Collection and Destruction Programmes: A Proposal for Practical Technical Measures. New York: UNDP.

    Download (169.58 KB)
  • Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC). 2000. Tackling Small Arms and Light Weapons: A Practical Guide for Collection and Destruction. Bonn: Bonn International Center for Conversion.

    Download (440.94 KB)
  • DeClerq, David. 1999. Destroying Small Arms and Light Weapons: Survey of Methods and Practical Guide. Report No.13. Bonn: Bonn International Centre for Conversion.

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  • International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA). 1998. Report of the UNDP Mission for an Arms Collection Pilot Programme in the Gramsh District - Albania. Tirana: IANSA.

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  • Meek, Sarah. 1998. Buy or Barter: The History and Prospects of Voluntary Weapons Collection Programmes. ISS Monograph Series 22. London: Institute for Strategic Studies.

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  • Laurence, Edward, assisted by Sarah Meek. 1996. The New Field of Micro-Disarmament: Addressing the Proliferation and Buildup of Small Arms and Light Weapons. Issues Brief 7. Bonn: Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC).

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  • Kennedy, David, et al. 1996. Gun Buy-backs: Where Do We Stand and Where Do We Go? In Plotkin, Marta R., ed. Under Fire: Gun Buy-backs, Exchanges and Amnesty Programs. Washington, D.C.: Police Executive Research Forum.

  • Kleck, Gary. 1996. Nothing Succeeds Like Failure. In Plotkin, Marta R., ed. Under Fire: Gun Buy-backs, Exchanges and Amnesty Programs. Washington, D.C.: Police Executive Research Forum.

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Instruments and Documents

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

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  • 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.

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  • Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). 2003. Best Practice Guide on National Procedures for the Destruction of Small Arms and Light Weapons. Handbook of Best Practices on Small Arms and Light Weapons. 19 September. FSC. GAL/26/03/Rev 2.

    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.

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  • UNSC (United Nations Security Council). 2000. Methods of Destruction of Small Arms, Light Weapons, Ammunition and Explosives. S/2000/1092 as of 15 November 2000.

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