Small arms and light weapons proliferation and violence: Estimating its scale and forms

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aSmall arms and light weapons are widely available and easy to use, so they are the most prominent tools in contemporary armed conflicts as well as in armed criminal and interpersonal violence in non-conflict settings. To grasp the global scale of SALW proliferation and the patterns of violence committed with SALW, this briefing paper summarizes the available data which is considered reliable from credible sources. Most of this data are estimates which suffer from gaps in collection by governments. Reliability is somewhat improved after a few years of cross-checking by UN bodies.

This paper outlines the proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and describes the scale of SALW violence by providing a detailed analysis of significant statistics. The paper concludes with some recommendations to governments that would improve the collection and reporting of relevant data that will help curb the proliferation and violent use of SALW by different actors.

This paper is a collaboration between IPIS and IANSA (International Action Network on Small Arms)

This publication has been produced with the financial assistance of the Belgian Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD). The contents of this document can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the Belgian Development Cooperation.