Bookmark and share

Follow us

United Nations Arms Embargoes: Their Impact on Arms Flows and Target Behaviour
A Report by SIPRI and the Uppsala University Special Program on the Implementation of Targeted Sanctions
ISBN 978-91-85114-56-6

Click to enlarge
This publication is available for purchase directly from SIPRI. Click on the purchase button below. It can also be downloaded for free.

Case studies
Background paper
About the authors
Download the Executive summary

This report is the first analysis of the 27 United Nations arms embargoes that have been imposed since 1990. UN arms embargoes have been criticized as having a limited impact on reducing arms flows to their targets or improving target behaviour. Against this background the report offers a reassessment of UN arms embargoes, their objectives and their effects. In particular it considers the impact of the Interlaken (1999–2001), Bonn–Berlin (2000–2001) and Stockholm (2001–2003) processes, which offered a range of proposals for developing the focus and implementation of arms embargoes. The report is the first comprehensive assessment of UN arms embargoes implemented since the innovations deriving from these processes were introduced.

In an effort to further improve the effectiveness of the targeting of UN arms embargoes, this report offers a typology to be considered when designing and assessing UN arms embargoes. The typology distinguishes between the different international peace and security end goals of:

  • countering threats against Global Security;
  • strengthening legitimate Government Authority; and
  • achieving the peaceful political settlement of a violent armed conflict through Conflict Management.

The results indicate that embargoes have different impacts on arms flows and target behaviour in these three types of situation. In reaching these conclusions, the researchers have also looked carefully at alternative explanations.

Recommendations for strengthening the implementation of arms embargoes are addressed in particular to the UN Security Council, but will be of interest to all UN member states, UN agencies, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, researchers and the concerned general public.

Back to top


Executive summary (download)
1. Introduction
2. Assessing the impact of threats of a UN arms embargo
3. Assessing the implementation of UN arms embargoes
4. Assessing the impact of ending a UN arms embargo
5. Recommendations for the UN Security Council

Back to top

Case studies

Back to top

Background paper

'UN arms embargoes and target behaviour, 1990–2006', by Daniel Strandow, is available on the SPITS website.

Back to top

About the authors


Damien Fruchart (United Kingdom) is a researcher at Ethix Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Advisors. He was a Research Assistant with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Project from October 2006 to May 2007. He has a BA in Chinese and Japanese Studies from the University of Leeds and a master's degree from Uppsala University. Previously, he held an internship with the European Commission's delegation in Beijing, China.

Dr Paul Holtom (United Kingdom) is a Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Project. He was the Lead Researcher on small arms and light weapons projects in north-eastern and south-eastern Europe for Saferworld. He is the author of several journal articles on the Baltic states, Kaliningrad and the Russian Federation, and of Arms Transit Trade in the Baltic Sea Region (Saferworld, 2003), Turning the Page: Small Arms and Light Weapons in Albania (Saferworld, 2005) and Small Arms Production in Russia (Saferworld, 2007).

Siemon T. Wezeman (Netherlands) has worked in the SIPRI Arms Transfers Project since 1992 and has led the project since mid-2006. Among his publications are several on international transparency in arms transfers. He is the author of The Future of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, SIPRI Policy Paper no. 4 (August 2003), and co-author of Cluster Weapons: Necessity or Convenience? (Pax Christi Netherlands, 2005).

Uppsala University

The Special Program on the Implementation of Targeted Sanctions (SPITS) is a project within the Uppsala University Department of Peace and Conflict Research. SPITS worked with the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs organizing the Stockholm Process, resulting in the Stockholm Report on Making Targeted Sanctions Effective. The report was presented to the UN Security Council in 2003. Since then SPITS has studied implementation of a series of sanctions: Iraq, Burma/Myanmar (EU sanctions), Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire.

Daniel Strandow (Sweden) is a PhD candidate at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University. His previous experience includes working as a research assistant and associate within areas of conflict data, human security, conflict prevention and UN sanctions, and as a consultant for the private sector. He is the author of several reports on sanctions and conflict: Sanctions and Civil War: Targeted Measures for Conflict Resolution (Uppsala University, 2006) and Sanctions for Conflict Prevention and Peace Building: Lessons Learned from Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia (Uppsala University, co-authored with Peter Wallensteen, and Mikael Eriksson, 2006). His current research includes third party settlement efforts in internal conflicts through sanctions and aid.

Professor Peter Wallensteen (Sweden) has held the Dag Hammarskjöld Chair in Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University since 1985 and has been the Richard G. Starmann Sr Research Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame since 2006. He directs the Uppsala Conflict Data Program and the Special Program on the Implementation of Targeted Sanctions. The second, updated edition of his book Understanding Conflict Resolution: War, Peace and the Global System (Sage) was published in 2007. He is co-editor of International Sanctions: Between Words and Wars in the Global System (Frank Cass, 2005).

Back to top

Publisher: SIPRI and Uppsala University
ISBN 978-91-85114-56-6
57 pp.
November 2007
Price: €7.50 per copy plus €5 shipping and handling per order


Recent and forthcoming

Full list of publications

Permission requests

How to obtain SIPRI publications


Armed conflict and conflict management

Global and regional security

Military expenditure

Arms production

Arms transfers

Military technology

Chemical and biological weapons

Arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament


SIPRI Yearbook

SIPRI monographs

SIPRI Research Reports

Chemical & Biological Warfare Studies

SIPRI Policy Papers

SIPRI Insights on Peace and Security

SIPRI Fact Sheets, Background Papers and Policy Briefs

EU Non-proliferation Papers

Other publications