Technology & Trade

Managing the Risks Posed by Unauthorized Retransfers of Arms

Unauthorized retransfers – which occur when a party to an authorized arms trade retransfers weapons to an unauthorized recipient without obtaining prior permission from the original exporter – can contribute to a multitude of transnational challenges. From escalating armed violence to exacerbating regional disputes, impinging economic development, and contributing to immeasurable human suffering, unauthorized retransfers of conventional weapons can have deadly and lasting global effects.

Unauthorized retransfers transpire in a variety of circumstances, and can include willful government non-compliance, loss, or theft. Numerous mechanisms are in place to combat these risks, but tracking unauthorized retransfers is incredibly difficult as diversions can occur at any time during the lifecycle of a weapon. This means that the weapons may be retransferred immediately after an original exportation/importation or years after the first transferal, as well as in whole or in disassembled parts.

Libya and Syria are but two areas in which non-state forces are increasingly seen with arms and ammunition that were acquired from unauthorized retransfers. In these countries and around the world, these weapons continue to undermine conflict resolution, peace-building, and development efforts. Governments, the private sector, and civil society organizations are involved in implementing and developing new and innovative approaches to address these challenges.

Stimson’s Managing Across Boundaries Initiative on Monday, June 23 held a panel discussion on current efforts to defend against the damaging effects that unauthorized retransfers can have on national, regional and international security.

View this event below or here:


Dr. Paul Holtom

Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University

 Dr. Paul Holtom is a senior research fellow at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University (UK). He was previously a Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Program and Director of the program during 2009-2013. He has also been a consultant for several NGOs (Oxfam, Saferworld, and the Small Arms Survey) and regional and international organizations, including the Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Dr. Holtom was also the consultant for the 2013 Group of Governmental Experts on the UN Register of Conventional Arms.

Dr. Holtom holds a Ph.D and MA in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Birmingham, UK. He is an Honorary Research Fellow of the University of Birmingham and a member of the International Program Council of the Small Arms Survey

Jonah Leff

Conflict Armament Research

 Jonah Leff is director of operations at Conflict Armament Research. He previously was the project coordinator of the Small Arms Survey’s Human Security Baseline Assessment (HSBA) for Sudan and South Sudan, a multi-year project that aims to support armed violence reduction and arms control initiatives in Sudan and South Sudan. Between 2009 and 2011, he served on United Nations Security Council sanctions expert monitoring groups, investigating arms embargo violations on Darfur, Eritrea, and Somalia. Before joining the UN, Leff worked as a researcher at the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, where he conducted extensive desk and field research on armed violence. He worked at the Center for Defense Information in Washington, DC in 2008.

Leff holds a Masters in Public Administration in International Management from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California, and has authored numerous publications.

Dr. Judd Stitziel

US Department of State, Office of Defense Trade Controls and Compliance

 Dr. Judd Stitziel is chief of the Research and Analysis Division (RAD) in the State Department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance. He assumed this position in 2013, having previously served in the division as a compliance specialist from 2005 to 2009. From 2009 to 2013, he worked in the Bureau of Counterterrorism as Director of the Antiterrorism Assistance Program. Before joining State, Dr. Stitziel worked in the private and academic sectors in a variety of contexts, including as a consultant in international investment development and as a visiting assistant professor in history at Cornell University and Wesleyan University.

Dr. Stitziel graduated from Yale University and holds doctoral and master’s degrees in history from The Johns Hopkins University.

Rachel Stohl

Managing Across Boundaries Initiative, The Stimson Center

Rachel Stohl is a senior associate with Stimson’s Managing Across Boundaries Initiative. Prior to joining Stimson, she was an associate fellow at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, from 2009-2011. Stohl was also a senior analyst at the Center for Defense Information in Washington, D.C from 1998-2009. Stohl has also been a consultant for many international organizations, including Oxfam, Project Ploughshares, SIPRI, the Small Arms Survey, and World Vision. She was the consultant to the UN ATT process from 2010-2013 and was previously the consultant to the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on the Arms Trade Treaty in 2008 and the UN Register for Conventional Arms in 2009.Stohl is an adjunct professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University.

Stohl holds an M.A. in international policy studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and an honors B.A. in political science and German from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

For more information, contact Shannon Dick at [email protected]

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