The Conventional Defense program engages governments, the private sector, and civil society to promote effective policies that mitigate the consequences of illegal or irresponsible arms transfers while ensuring that legitimate trade is not impeded. The Conventional Defense program is part of the Managing Across Boundaries initiative.
The international trade in conventional weapons is a multi-billion dollar business and a significant tool of foreign policy. Yet, irresponsible arms transfers contribute to armed conflict, the displacement of people, violent crime, human rights abuses, and terrorism – all of which undermine security, stability, and sustainable development. From small arms to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), managing how conventional weapons are transferred or employed is vital in determining the course of global conflicts, civil wars, regional disputes, economic development, and humanitarian and human rights efforts. Conventional Defense focuses on the opportunities and challenges surrounding the global trade in conventional weapons, and works with governments, international and regional organizations, civil society, and the private sector to address proliferation concerns and develop practical solutions that guide the transfer and use of conventional weapons to ensure that such weapons do not fall into the wrong hands or undermine international peace, security, and development.
Conventional Defense takes an in-depth look at issues surrounding the international trade in conventional arms. The project seeks to raise the profile of these issues within the United States and promote international norms and standards that make global arms transfer policies more responsible, effective, and transparent. The project works closely with governments, international and regional organizations, civil society, and the private sector to mitigate the negative consequences that poorly regulated arms transfer can have on communities worldwide. Conventional Defense promotes effective and sustainable implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty, critically examines existing transfer control policies, and looks to develop international standards and norms for evolving weapons technologies to help ensure that present and future transfers do not undermine security, stability, or development across the globe.
Conventional Defense works to develop pragmatic frameworks and identify practical solutions to mitigate the challenges posed by unregulated and irresponsible arms transfers. From providing a detailed set of recommendations to help establish a comprehensive U.S. drone policy, to developing resources for state governments to use in assessing their current arms transfer control systems, and analyzing the nexus between U.S. military assistance and child soldiers, the project seeks to guide policy decisions and increase transparency and accountability in the international conventional arms trade. The project continuously reviews the efficacy and impact of current international arms transfer policies and makes targeted recommendations to address policy gaps and support international peace, development, and security.
Conventional Defense provides expert analysis on the potential implications of past, current, and future conventional arms transfers to determine domestic and international policy recommendations; supplies in-depth research on UAV use, development, and proliferation; and identifies research agendas and spotlights policy gaps in order to ensure that well-intentioned military assistance does not end up in the hands of children.
The Report and Recommendations of the Stimson Task Force on U.S. Drone Policy outlines eight strategic recommendations designed to ensure that U.S. policy on unmanned aerial vehicles is transparent, accountable, and consistent with long-term national security goals, foreign policy ideals, and commercial interests.
The Arms Trade Treaty-Baseline Assessment Project (ATT-BAP) supports efforts to effectively implement the ATT and identifies resource and capacity needs to fulfill the ATTs obligations.
The Military Assistance and Child Soldiers dataset tracks U.S. military assistance to governments identified by the State Department as using or supporting the use of child soldiers.