Strategic Foresight

Reports and papers

International arms flows: monitoring, sources and obstacles

24 Jan 2018 - 15:52
Source: Commander/US 7th Fleet/flickr - Aviation Ordnance men USS Carl Vinson

Most violence requires arms to be carried and good insight into arms flows is therefore crucial in understanding the potential of violence. But how is the flow of arms to conflict and non-conflict zones monitored?

This report provides an overview of the most important initiatives and methods to monitor arms flows and discusses their validity and utility. Despite the availability of valuable information there is no single database providing continuously detailed monitoring flows of all categories of arms. Hence, despite the need for general information many practical studies will have pinched together evidence from various sources. This is illustrated by brief case studies on arms transfers to Syria, Turkey, Ukraine and Yemen.

Finally the author presents the following five recommendations to improve the collection on arms flows and better utilise already available information:

  • to use and support existing monitoring efforts;
  • to improve the use of existing information;
  • to carefully explore new tools;
  • to commission case studies, and:
  • to support broader studies based on existing case studies.