13 July 2009

The Small Arms Survey 2009

The Small Arms Survey 2009: Shadows of War
Source: Small Arms Survey Press Release

The Small Arms Survey 2009 contains two thematic sections. The first highlights the challenges of ensuring security after the formal end of war and comprises an overview chapter and three case studies (Aceh, Afghanistan, and Southern Lebanon). The second thematic section explores various aspects of small arms transfers, including the value of the authorized trade, national controls, and weapons tracing. Additional chapters focus on small arms measures and impacts.

The value of the authorized global trade in small arms and light weapons, including their parts, accessories, and ammunition, jumped 28 per cent from 2000 to 2006, an increase of some USD 653 million, according to UN customs data presented in the 2009 edition of the Small Arms Survey. The growth was most pronounced in transfers of parts and accessories for pistols or revolvers, which doubled (increased by 101 per cent) over the period, but all categories saw increases with the exception of military small arms and light weapons, which dropped by 29 per cent.

The United States continues to drive the global small arms trade, remaining the largest importer of pistols and revolvers, sporting shotguns, and small-calibre ammunition. Greater demand for small arms in the United States was responsible for 48 per cent of the worldwide increase in imports from 2000 to 2006. This year’s Survey utilizes new data sources and benefits from the expansion and refinement of existing sources to update estimates of the global trade in small arms and light weapons. Using customs data and other information supplied by 53 countries, the Small Arms Survey estimates the global authorized trade in firearms (all small arms and some light weapons) at approximately USD 1.58 billion in 2006. The actual value of the trade in all small arms, light weapons, their parts, accessories, and ammunition almost certainly exceeds the previously reported estimate of USD 4 billion.

‘Current data shows that the global trade in small arms and light weapons is robust and even expanding, and that handguns are driving it’, said Small Arms Survey Programme Director Keith Krause. ‘We don’t know whether these weapons are destined for civilians, police, or military forces. But it is striking that handguns have outpaced all other small arms and light weapons over the period.’

The Small Arms Survey 2009: Shadows of War also reviews the factors that influence the distribution and intensity of post-conflict violence, together with some of the new strategies designed to address such violence. Armed violence can persist long after the formal end of war. Managing it is essential to the long-term recovery of affected societies, yet conventional approaches to post-conflict security promotion, including the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of ex-combatants, are often unable to meet these security needs. The Survey’s post-conflict section includes case studies of Aceh (Indonesia), Afghanistan, and Southern Lebanon.

This edition of the Survey reveals that:
  • According to available customs data for 2006, top exporters of small arms and light weapons, including their parts, accessories, and ammunition (those with annual exports worth at least USD 100 million) were the United States, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Austria, and Belgium (in descending order). China and the Russian Federation are probably also top exporters, but customs data alone does not support this status.
  • The 2009 Small Arms Trade Transparency Barometer finds that the most transparent major exporting countries are (in descending order): Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Norway, with the Netherlands, Serbia, and the United States tied for fifth place. The least transparent countries are Iran and North Korea (tied), followed by South Africa, the Russian Federation, Israel, and Taiwan, in that order.
  • A new household survey supports independent reports of some 1,000 deaths and widespread property damage in Southern Lebanon as a result of the 2006 Hizbollah–Israel war. Although Southern Lebanon is presumed to be a Hizbollah stronghold, the survey reveals strong support for state security institutions (Lebanese army and police).

Published by Cambridge University Press, the Small Arms Survey 2009: Shadows of War is the Survey’s ninth annual global analysis of small arms issues. An independent research project funded by numerous governments, the Small Arms Survey is the principal source of public information and analysis on all aspects of small arms and armed violence.