The Global Arms Trade's Impact upon Security
Last week’s focus on the growing importance of Private Military and Security Companies in military operations demonstrated, yet again, that there is profit to be made in conflict and political upheaval. Adding substance to this familiar argument is the existence of a lucrative global defense industry that not only arms and equips the world’s armed forces, but also non-state actors of varying degrees of legitimacy. The sale and transfer of small arms and conventional weapons is part of this remit, but it unfortunately extends far beyond ‘legitimate’ state-to-state transactions.
In order to better understand why and how arms transfers, whether above-board or done in the shadows, have the impact they do, especially in intra-state conflicts, we begin this week with a thumbnail sketch of the current state of the global arms trade. Since much of it falls outside of the traditional defense marketplace, on Tuesday we will cast light on the ‘under-the-table’ deals that mar the industry. In particular, we will pay special attention to Europe’s consistent inability to prosecute illicit arms traders.
Having provided an overview of the overt and behind-the-scenes sectors of the global arms trade, we will then turn to two case studies. On Wednesday we will look at the trafficking of arms to sub-Saharan Africa and ask whether such transfers create or help promote conditions that lead to or exacerbate intra-state conflict. We will then apply a similar rule-of-thumb on Thursday, when we consider the role arms transfers are playing in the political violence currently engulfing Syria. Finally, we will conclude our week-long investigation by looking at recent international efforts to establish effective rules and regulations over global arms transfers, to include the United Nations’ recent attempts to establish an Arms Trade Treaty.
03 Sep 2012 / Special Feature
The global arms trade continues to flourish, in part because it enables emerging powers to expand their defense-industrial base. To better understand the dynamics of this trade, today we identify some of the suppliers and buyers involved, and the distribution routes they use. More on «The Arms Trade by Numbers»
04 Sep 2012 / Special Feature
Although there have been several high-profile prosecutions of illicit arms brokers in recent years, the majority of these cases have taken place in the United States. By examining the controls currently in place to regulate arms brokering, SIPRI’s Mark Bromley considers why action in Europe has been more limited. More on «Prosecuting Illicit Arms Brokers: Improving the European Record»
05 Sep 2012 / Special Feature
Most states in sub-Saharan Africa rely on the ‘legitimate’ and ‘illegitimate’ transfer of arms and conventional weapons to supply their needs. Together with our partners at SIPRI, today we explore whether these transfers lead to or exacerbate conflicts in the region. More on «Arms Transfers and Armed Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa»
06 Sep 2012 / Audio
Despite increasing fears that the Assad regime might use chemical weapons, the conflict in Syria has thus far been fought with conventional ones, most of which have been supplied by Russia. While an arms embargo would not stop the fighting, SIPRI’s Pieter Wezeman argues that it would send a strong political signal to Assad and his backers. More on «Supplying Arms – The Syrian Case»
07 Sep 2012 / Special Feature
Recent attempts by the United Nations General Assembly to develop a global arms trade treaty stalled when the United States, among others, asked for further negotiations. Despite this setback, Paul Holtom identifies three options UN member states might pursue to implement a viable treaty. More on «The UN Conference on an Arms Trade Treaty: No Treaty…Yet?»