Increase in materials for Irak, Afghanistan wars and in the US by citizens
Swiss, British and Romanians top 3 among 52 nations, for transparency
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The value in dollar terms of small arms sold in 52 countries has nearly doubled since 2006, to $8.5 billion, according to the Small Arms Survey 2012: Moving Targets, published by the SAS at Geneva’s Graduate Institute Monday 27 August. The figure is the result of a four-year study which shows that “The annual value of authorized international transfers of small arms, light weapons, their parts, accessories, and ammunition is at least $8.5 billion” and “more than double the previous estimate of approximately $4 billion, released in 2006.”
The higher estimate is due in part to better methodology, according to the SAS, but “two important sources of growth are increased spending by US civilians on small arms and their ammunition, and an expansion in world arms trade, with “large-scale government purchases of military firearms and light weapons.” The latter have been used largely to supply Afghanistan and Iraq in the past six years.
Small Arms Survey Managing Director Eric Berman notes that “Improved transparency from important exporters, such as China and the Russian Federation, as well as states that re-export surplus weapons, would improve our understanding of the sources and means through which authorized arms transfers fuel the illicit trade.”
Switzerland, Britain and Romania come out as the most transparent countries in the licit arms trade business. The 2012 survey uses published customs data to calculate top importers and exporters but the authors note that “poor transparency in state reporting—among both large and small exporters—keeps a great deal of the authorized trade obscure.”
The report includes several other findings:
- authorized trade in small arms and light weapons is highly concentrated, with a handful of countries accounting for most of the documented transfers during the 2001–10 period
- state transparency on small arms transfers to and from Europe and North America has been relatively strong, it has lagged in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East
- a multi-year project to examine illicit small arms and light weapons, focusing on Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia, is initially showing that in all three cases non-state armed groups are almost always using older-generation weapons. “To a great extent, the legacy of state collapse and plundered stockpiles, rather than newer weapon models, appears to determine the arsenals of today’s insurgents”
- “The goal of curbing small arms proliferation, embodied in the UN Programme of Action” appears elusive as the survey tries to track firearm homicide in Latin America and the Caribbean, drug violence in selected Latin American countries.
Ed. note: SAS is making available online “three full chapters—on authorized transfers of parts and accessories, on non-lethal firearm violence, and on illicit arms in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia—are available for download, along with chapter summaries of all chapters in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. For all previous editions of the Small Arms Survey (2001–11), all chapters are now available to download in full.”