Technology & Trade
Research Pages

Managing the International Arms Trade

in Program

The global
trade in conventional weapons is a multi-billion dollar business. Headlines
containing dire threats of weapons of mass destruction often dominate the front
page and spending habits of developed world governments, but it is conventional
weapons that are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths and
immeasurable human suffering every year. International progress toward
combating the uncontrolled trade in conventional arms has been slow. However,
new opportunities are emerging for coordinated global action.

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) Project

 Unlike their
nuclear counterparts, conventional weapons have been relatively unregulated in
international forums. Arms transfer decisions are made against the backdrop of other
political, economic, and diplomatic policies. In some cases, transfer decisions
may be ill-advised even when they are perfectly legal. Such irresponsible
exports contribute to the displacement of people, violent crime, human rights
abuses, and terrorism, all of which undermine security, stability and
sustainable development. Our goal should be to close dangerous loopholes that
have allowed arms to flow to human rights abusers and terrorists, perpetuate
conflicts, undermine development, and necessitate foreign military intervention.

The Arms
Trade Treaty, which will be negotiated at the United Nations in July 2012, will
attempt to develop specific criteria that States would use when making arms
transfer decisions. MAB’s ATT project focuses on increasing awareness of and
education on the ATT. The project will ensure that policymakers and other
relevant stakeholders, including the public and the media, sufficiently
understand key policy, economic and human security issues surrounding the
ATT.  A wide variety of myths have been
perpetuated about the ATT; the project will counter those myths with a
realistic, pragmatic approach to the issue.

Curbing Arms Proliferation

 The end of
the Cold War saw the emergence of new conflicts fueled by small arms and light
weapons and other conventional weapons. These lethal, simple to use, widely
available, easily concealed and transported weapons are found in the arsenals of
both national armed forces and non-state groups-including gangs and organized
criminal entities. These legally available weapons often destabilize societies
and regions, undermine legitimate governments, hinder social and economic
development, and ultimately necessitate foreign military intervention.

The
international trade in conventional weapons, including small arms and light
weapons, is regulated by a patchwork of national laws and politically binding
regional and international agreements and treaties. Over the last 30 years, a
wide variety of international and regional treaties, agreements, declarations,
model regulations, and UN resolutions have been adopted by various governments,
international organizations, and groups. However, even if implementation of
these existing arrangements was improved, ill-advised transfers would still
occur, as they do not cover every region, type of transfer or activity. 

MAB focuses
on the opportunities and challenges surrounding the trade in conventional
weapons, including small arms/light weapons. The project works with governments
and the private sector to raise the profile on these issues within the United
States by conducting meaningful research on the conventional arms trade, and by
developing and promoting pragmatic solutions to conventional arms proliferation
issues.

Child Soldiers

The global
arms trade allows weapons to freely flow around the world, often ending up in
the hands of recipients that violate human rights. Perhaps the most heinous
offense of these illicit end users is the recruitment and use of child
soldiers. The United States is one of only a handful of countries that seeks to
prevent weapons from ending up in the hands of children. In order to further
develop this issue in policy dialogues and raise its profile on policy agendas,
the Managing Across Boundaries program focuses on researching the nexus between
military assistance and child soldiers. The project aims to identify research
agendas and spotlights policy gaps in order to ensure that well intentioned
military assistance does not end up in the hands of children.

Select Publications and Events

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Choose Your Subscription Topics
* indicates required
I'm interested in...
38 North: News and Analysis on North Korea
South Asian Voices