The Small Arms Survey 2009

By on March 3, 2010

The Small Arms Survey 2009: Shadows of War contains two thematic sections. The main theme highlights the challenges of ensuring security after the formal end of war; it comprises an overview chapter that surveys post-conflict armed violence and new strategies to address it as well as three case studies on Aceh,
Afghanistan, and Southern Lebanon. The second thematic section explores different aspects of small arms transfers, including the value of the authorized trade, national export controls, and weapons and ammunition tracing. Rounding out the volume are chapters on recent developments in the United Nations small arms agenda, on civilian, state, and non-state disarmament programmes to date, and on the impact of armed violence on children and youth.
The Small Arms Survey is produced annually by a team of researchers based in Geneva, Switzerland, and a worldwide network of local researchers. Policy-makers, diplomats, and non-governmental organizations have come to value it as a vital resource for topical analysis of small arms-related issues and armed violence reduction strategies.

Key findings

Post-conflict security
• Certain post-conflict societies and population groups suffer rates of direct armed violence comparable to (or even higher than) those experienced during armed conflicts.
• The risk of armed conflict recurring in post-war societies appears to be greater than the risk of war erupting in societies that have not experienced armed conflict.
• In Aceh, despite a broadly successful peace process following 30 years of secessionist conflict, problems associated with reintegrating former combatants have risked accentuating the underlying causes of the conflict.
• In much of Afghanistan, programmes to disarm and demobilize former Afghan Military Forces and illegal armed groups have not succeeded in disrupting the authority of local commanders, warlords, or other strongmen. Commanders of local armed groups
are increasingly unwilling to cooperate with disarmament and demobilization; some who had complied with previous disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration efforts are reportedly re-arming.
• The people of Southern Lebanon, whatever their political affiliation, express strong support for state security institutions. Small arms transfers, export controls, and tracing
• Based on UN Comtrade data and other sources, the Small Arms Survey estimates the global authorized trade in firearms reached about USD 1.58 billion in 2006. The undocumented trade, which remains significant despite greater reporting on firearms transfers, is likely to be at least USD 100 million.
• UN Comtrade data identifies a 28 per cent increase in the authorized trade in small arms, light weapons, their parts, accessories, and ammunition from 2000 to 2006, after adjusting for inflation. The sector with the largest increase in total value was small calibre ammunition (less than 14.5 mm), the trade in which increased by USD 183 million, or 33 per cent. Parts and accessories for pistols and revolvers experienced the largest percentage increase, rising by 101 per cent, or USD 60 million.
• Available data suggests that the previous estimate of USD 4 billion for the global authorized trade in small arms and light weapons, including their parts, accessories, and ammunition, is a significant underestimate.
• Suspected or known significant exporters of small arms that report little or no information on their firearms exports include Belarus, Iran, Israel, North Korea, and South Africa. Other exporters, including China, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, and Singapore provide some data on exports of sporting shotguns and rifles, but little or no data on their military firearms exports.
• In 2006 the top exporters of small arms and light weapons (those with an annual export value of at least USD 100 million), according to available customs data, were (in descending order) the United States, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Austria, and Belgium.
• The top importers of small arms and light weapons for 2006 (those with an annual import value of at least USD 100 million), according to customs data, were (in descending order) the United States, France, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Germany, and Australia.
• The 2009 Small Arms Trade Transparency Barometer identifies Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Serbia, and the United States as the most transparent of the major small arms and light weapons exporters. The least transparent major exporters are Iran and North Korea, both scoring zero.
• The United States imports most of the world’s exported handguns and many of the world’s exported sporting shotguns and rifles. In 2006 handgun sales to the United States accounted for 59 per cent of the major exporters’ sales, and US imports of sporting and hunting shotguns and rifles accounted for 42 per cent.
• Basic components of export control systems—such as pre-licensing requirements, interagency decision-making, end-user certification, and sanctions—appear to be in place in virtually all of the world’s major small arms exporters, but the effectiveness of these components varies.
• Few of the 74 signatories to the UN Firearms Protocol import-mark weapons.
• States responded to only 30 per cent of UN tracing requests. UN small arms agenda
• The outcome of the Third Biennial Meeting of States at the United Nations offers the promise, but not the certainty, of a reinvigorated UN small arms process.
• The decision of the UN Group of Governmental Experts on ammunition to treat the issue of ammunition surplus within the broader framework of stockpile management ensures their report’s practical relevance.
• The UN Group of Governmental Experts on a possible Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) reached few, if any, firm conclusions; the prospects for an ATT remain unclear. Disarmament
• Disarmament has destroyed 40 per cent of existing military arsenals in particular cases and perhaps 20 per cent of civilian weapons.
• At the global level, at least 76 million military small arms and 120 million civilian firearms could be eliminated.
• While disarmament programmes targeting non-state forces are far smaller quantitatively than those targeting armed forces or civilians, they may be most important for international and domestic security.
• Whether voluntary or compulsory, civilian weapons collection and destruction is most effective when accepted as legitimate. Coercive disarmament efforts often fail.
• The best prospects for further large-scale disarmament involve destruction of state surpluses. Children and youth
• Children and youth are specifically and disproportionately affected by many consequences of armed violence, whether physiological, psychological, or social.
• Although a number of programmes have been designed to reduce the impacts of armed violence on children and youth, lessons learned have not been systematically documented and built upon.
• Despite their vulnerabilities, children and youth demonstrate enormous resilience and an ability to cope with the effects of armed violence.

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