Making a Mark: Reporting on Firearms Marking in the RECSA Region (Special Report 19)

James Bevan and Benjamin King
Special Report

In 2011–12 the Small Arms Survey examined the weapon-marking initiative under way among member states of the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States (RECSA), the first regional marking initiative of its kind. Making a Mark: Reporting on Firearms Marking in the RECSA Regiona Special Report published in partnership with RECSA—describes the initiative, its successes, and its challenges.

RECSA was created in 2005 to tackle the illicit small arms problem in the region. Its members committed themselves to marking their national stockpiles of small arms and light weapons with unique identifying codes to ensure traceability and prevent diversion onto the illicit market.

In 2006, the US Department of State and additional donors assisted RECSA in purchasing weapon-marking machines, establishing the necessary software, and training machine operators. By 2012 RECSA member states had marked hundreds of thousands of weapons.

The report examines the progress made by eight RECSA member states (Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda) during the 2007–2012 marking initiative. It summarizes the findings from an extensive Small Arms Survey field evaluation in 2011 and 2012, during which Survey staff assessed national marking programmes. They looked into the suitability and functioning of marking equipment, the logistical arrangements in place (such as vehicles to transport marking teams and machines) and the success of these states in establishing effective national record-keeping systems.

The Small Arms Survey has also published a short Research Note, Lessons Learned from Weapon-marking Initiatives which offers an overview and condenses the key findings of the study (also available in French)

This project was supported by the US Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.

Available in ENGLISH

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Keywords: Markings