US Foreign Policy
Data Tool
CSPA Implementation Tracker

Methodology & Glossary

Monitoring U.S. government efforts to leverage arms sales and military assistance to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers
Part of the Child Soldiers Project

Methodology

The CSPA Implementation Tracker monitors how the U.S. government implements the CSPA. The tracker captures information based on the terms of the law itself and examines four key elements on an annual basis to inform analyses of the law’s implementation:

  • The countries identified on the annual CSPA list,
  • The types of U.S. arms sales and military assistance relevant to each country that are prohibited by the law,
  • The type of national interest waiver that may be applied to each country – e.g., a full or partial waiver, or no waiver, and
  • The amount of U.S. arms sales and military assistance that are either prohibited or allowed through a waiver for each country following the U.S. president’s annual determination of the national interest waivers.

The Stimson Center is the only source for consolidated information on this issue. The CSPA Implementation Tracker uses open-source information – pulled from government documents – and packages all of the information together to provide the U.S. executive branch, Congress, the public, and the media with an essential resource that demonstrates how the United States implements the CSPA and maintains its commitment to prevent the use of child soldiers around the world.

The CSPA Implementation Tracker is informed exclusively by information provided in publicly available government documents. Countries included on each annual CSPA list are captured in the U.S. Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons report. The values of CSPA-relevant arms sales and military assistance are found in (1) the U.S. Department of State’s annual Congressional Budget Justification documents; (2) the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls’ Section 655 Reports, within the U.S. Department of State; (3) the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s Historical Sales Book and Excess Defense Articles database, within the U.S. Department of Defense; and (4) supplementary information captured in reports from the Congressional Research Service and/or the Government Accountability Office. Information derived from the Department of State’s annual Congressional Budget Justification documents reflects actual amounts for Fiscal Years 2011-2020 and estimated amounts for Fiscal Year 2021, based on the Fiscal Year 2021 budget request. 

A complete list and annual break down of our data sources is below.

Details on the type of national interest waiver applied to each country are found in annual U.S. presidential determinations, published in the Federal Register. Stimson calculates the amount of U.S. arms sales and military assistance that is either prohibited or waived for each country by comparing the value of CSPA-relevant arms sales and military assistance provided in the government sources listed above against the associated annual waiver determinations. For arms sales and excess defense articles, these calculations are based on the value of authorizations and agreements. These calculations are rounded to the nearest dollar. Given the historical gaps in information regarding actual waived vs. prohibited assistance, this calculation reflects an approximation based on data that is publicly available.

Following a 2019 amendment to the CSPA, the U.S. Department of State is now required to report annually in the Trafficking in Persons report on how the U.S. government implemented the CSPA’s provisions during the previous year. The report must include countries identified on the previous year’s CSPA list, a description and the amount of any U.S. arms sales or military assistance withheld under the law’s terms, a list of any waivers or exceptions granted by the administration, the administration’s justifications for those waiver or exception determinations, and a description and the amount of any arms sales and/or military assistance provided pursuant to a waiver. The U.S. Department of State published its first such report in 2020. Stimson will update the CSPA Implementation Tracker based on any additional information that the U.S. government provides.

The 2019 amendment also stipulates that waivers may only be granted if the president “certifies to the appropriate congressional committees that the government of such country is taking effective and continuing steps to address the problem of child soldiers.”

Complete List and Annual Break Down of Data Sources

  • DSCA Historical Sales Book. The U.S. Department of Defense updated the historical sales book (formerly referred to as the historical facts book) in December 2020. Due to limitations in the data update, the CSPA Implementation Tracker currently relies solely on information from the  2017 Historical Facts Book for FY11 – FY17 data.

Glossary

Actual amount: The amount of money spent by federal agencies on U.S. military assistance. Actual amounts reflect spending priorities approved by Congress during the annual appropriations process.

Arms sales: The transfer of U.S. military equipment, defense services, or weapons to a foreign country, foreign private firm, or international organization via sale, lease, loan, or grant. The CSPA Implementation Tracker uses the term to refer generally to sales conducted under the Foreign Military Sales and Direct Commercial Sales programs.

Child soldier: The CSPA states that the term “child soldier” means any person under 18 years of age who takes a direct part in hostilities as a member of governmental armed forces, police, or other security forces; any person under 18 years of age who has been compulsorily recruited into governmental armed forces, police, or other security forces; any person under 15 years of age who has been voluntarily recruited into governmental armed forces, police, or other security forces; or any person under 18 years of age who has been recruited or used in hostilities by armed forces distinct from the armed forces of a state; and includes any person above who is serving in any capacity, including in a support role such as cook, porter, messenger, medic, guard, or sex slave.

Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA): U.S. law that prohibits the U.S. government from providing certain types of arms sales and military assistance to countries that have governmental armed forces, police, or other security forces, or government-supported armed groups – including paramilitaries, militias, or civil defense forces – that recruit or use child soldiers. The law allows the U.S. president to waive these prohibitions if doing so is determined to be in the national interest and if the government concerned is taking “effective and continuing steps to address the problem of child soldiers.”

CSPA list: An annual list of countries identified by the U.S. Secretary of State as having governmental armed forces, police or other security forces, or government-supported armed groups that recruited or used child soldiers during the previous year. Under the CSPA, countries appearing on this list are prohibited from receiving certain types of U.S. arms sales and military assistance during the following fiscal year. The CSPA list appears in the U.S. Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons report.

Direct Commercial Sales (DCS): U.S. arms sales licensed by the U.S. Department of State and concluded between U.S. weapons manufacturers and foreign clients.

Estimated amount: The amount of money that federal agencies are estimated to have spent on U.S. arms sales and military assistance.

Excess Defense Articles (EDA): Surplus or obsolete weapons owned by the U.S. Department of Defense or Coast Guard and provided to foreign governments or international organizations at a reduced price or as a grant.

Fiscal Year: U.S. government accounting period beginning October 1 and ending September 30 of the following year. The fiscal year is designated by the calendar year in which it ends. Countries included on the CSPA list in a given calendar year are subject to arms sales and military assistance restrictions the following fiscal year.

Foreign Military Financing (FMF): Grants provided to foreign governments that are used to purchase U.S. weapons, training, and other defense articles and services from the United States.

Foreign Military Sales (FMS): Government-to-government arms sales wherein the U.S. government procures defense articles for purchase by a foreign partner. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency within the U.S. Department of Defense administers the program, with the U.S. Department of State involved in approving individual sales on a case-by-case basis.

Full waiver: National interest waivers that exempt a given country from all of the CSPA’s prohibitions on the provision of U.S. arms sales and military assistance. The term is not referenced in the text of the CSPA itself.

International Military Education and Training (IMET): A U.S. military assistance program that provides grants for members of foreign governments (civil servants) and militaries to participate in any of more than 2,000 courses in U.S. military management and technical training offered at U.S. military schools and training institutions. IMET is jointly managed by the Departments of State and Defense, though the Department of State has overall responsibility for the program.

Military assistance: The provision of U.S. military education, training, equipment, financing for U.S. arms, or weapons to a foreign country. The CSPA Implementation Tracker uses the term to refer generally to assistance provided under the Excess Defense Articles, Foreign Military Financing, International Military Education and Training, and Peacekeeping Operations programs, as well as assistance provided under Section 333, 1206, and 1208 authorities.

National interest waiver: A feature of the CSPA, national interest waivers allow the U.S. president to exempt a given country from the CSPA’s prohibitions on the provision of U.S. arms sales and military assistance if the president determines that doing so is in the national interest of the United States.

Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO): Discretionary budget authority designated to fund war-related activities in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The funding authority exists outside of the base budget and is not subject to the budget caps imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011The spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act ended in FY2021. It is unclear whether Congress will continue to use the OCO designation in FY2022 appropriations and beyond.. The U.S. Department of State first requested OCO-designated foreign affairs funds in FY2012. Since then, Congress has used the OCO designation for funds appropriated for several military assistance programs. This designation has applied to Foreign Military Financing and Peacekeeping Operations assistance subject to the CSPA.

Partial waiver: National interest waivers that exempt a given country from some, but not all, of the CSPA’s prohibitions on the provision of U.S. arms sales and military assistance. The term is not referenced in the text of the CSPA itself.

Peacekeeping Operations (PKO): A U.S. military assistance program that provides funds to support voluntary multi-national stabilization efforts, including peace support and stability operations as well as counterterrorism operations that are not funded through the United Nations. PKO funds are appropriated to the Department of State and may be used to reimburse assistance activities carried out by the Department of Defense.

Requested Amount: The amount of money requested by federal agencies to spend on U.S. arms sales and military assistance as part of the annual federal budget process.

Section 333: A consolidated global train and equip program for the Department of Defense authorized by Section 333 of the Fiscal Year 2017 (FY2017) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Section 333 allows the Department of Defense to use its operations and maintenance funds to train and equip foreign militaries to conduct a range of operations – including counterterrorism, counter-weapons of mass destruction, and counter-illicit drug trafficking operations – through the provision of defense articles and services, training, supplies, and small-scale construction. It requires that this assistance be accompanied by human rights training and institutional capability building and that it be consistent with other provisions of U.S. law. Section 1206 was incorporated into Section 333, along with several other authorities under Title 10 of the U.S. Code.

Section 1206: A consolidated global train and equip program for the Department of Defense authorized by Section 1206 the Fiscal Year 2006 (FY2006) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Between FY2006 and FY2015, Section 1206 allowed the Department of Defense to use its operations and maintenance funds to train and equip foreign military forces to conduct counterterrorism operations or to participate in or support military and stability operations in which U.S. forces participated. Section 1206 was repealed in 2014. These authorities have since been incorporated into Section 333. 

Section 1208: A consolidated global train and equip program for the Department of Defense authorized by Section 1208 of the Fiscal Year 2005 (FY2005) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Section 1208 allows the Department of Defense to provide material and non-material support to foreign forces supporting counterterrorism operations carried out by U.S. special operations forces. This authority is also commonly referred to as Section 127e due to the fact that Section 1208 of the FY2005 NDAA was codified into law in Title 10 U.S.C. Section 127e. U.S. presidents waived CSPA prohibitions on the provision of Section 1208 assistance to the Democratic Republic of Congo for FY2015 and to South Sudan for FY2015, FY2016, and FY2017. However, neither country received Section 1208 assistance during these fiscal years.

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