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Transfers of small arms and light weapons to fragile states: strengthening oversight and control
Mark Bromley, Lawrence Dermody, Hugh Griffiths, Paul Holtom and Michael Jenks
SIPRI Insights on Peace and Security no. 2013/1

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The need for security forces in a fragile state to be adequately trained and equipped is recognized as a precondition for stability and development. However, supplying arms to security forces in fragile states can contribute to armed conflict and instability.

The risks associated with supplying arms and ammunition to fragile states include the risk that the arms will be diverted to actors seeking to undermine stabilization efforts; the risk that the arms will contribute to the renewal or intensification of armed conflict; and the risk of corruption in the transaction.

A number of European Union, NATO and OECD states have undertaken risk mitigation measures, sometimes in cooperation with recipients as part of security sector reform (SSR) programmes. These measures include supporting multilateral notification systems for arms transfers; increasing control and oversight of the delivery of arms and ammunition; ensuring good standards for stockpile management, marking on import and surplus destruction; and improving the recipient states’ standards in arms procurement.

The challenge for the international community is to ensure that fragile states receive the arms that they require, while limiting the negative impacts on conflict dynamics, stabilization efforts and governance.


I. Introduction
II. The risks of supplying SALW to fragile states
III. Mitigation measures
IV. Conclusions

About the authors

Mark Bromley (United Kingdom) is a Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. His areas of research include arms acquisitions in Latin America, transparency in arms transfers, and trafficking in small arms and light weapons.

Lawrence Dermody (Australia) is a Researcher with the SIPRI Countering Illicit Trafficking–Mechanism Assessment Projects (CIT-MAP). His current research focuses on trafficking and maritime security.

Hugh Griffiths (United Kingdom) is a Senior Researcher and Head of CIT-MAP. His areas of research include arms transportation, logistics chains, sanctions evasion and trafficking techniques.

Dr Paul Holtom (United Kingdom) is Director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. His current research focuses on monitoring international arms transfers, transparency in arms transfers and strengthening transfer controls.

Michael Jenks (Netherlands) is a Researcher with CIT-MAP. His research interests focus on the trafficking of a variety of illicit or destabilizing commodities via air and sea and on related information sharing.

Publisher: SIPRI
20 pp.
January 2013


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