Temporary Mixed Commission for the Reduction of Armaments for the League of Nations
Temporary Mixed Commission for the Reduction of Armaments
for the League of Nations

TRANSPARENCY IN THE GLOBAL ARMS TRADE

Excessive and destabilizing accumulation of arms

An excessive build-up of weapons may lead to tension and insecurity among countries. Best example: how the First World War was fueled by a massive production of and uncontrolled trade in offensive weapons systems. The League of Nations thus developed a system of collecting and disseminating data on military matters in support of arms limitations efforts. In 1924, the League launched its first Armament Yearbook. The demise of the League stopped this practice.

National Armed Forces of Cote d'Ivoire (FANCI) withdrawing heavy weapons from the front line to relocate them into collection centres.
Credit:UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

TRANSPARENCY IN THE GLOBAL ARMS TRADE

Transparency and confidence building

But the idea had taken hold that greater transparency in armaments would enhance confidence, promote stability, help States to exercise restraint, ease tensions and strengthen regional and international peace and security. Increased openness could contribute to confidence building among States by reducing the risk of political-military misperceptions and miscalculations about the intention of States.

Tanks

TRANSPARENCY IN THE GLOBAL ARMS TRADE

United Nations Register of Conventional Arms

After the United Nations was founded, the Cold War prevented progress in military transparency. But the flaring up of conflict in the late 1980s reignited widespread concern about the excessive build-ups of weaponry. In 1991, the General Assembly established a Register of Conventional Arms and called upon all Member States to provide annually data on their arms transfers as well as background information on military holdings and domestic arms purchases.

A/RES/46/36 L


TRANSPARENCY IN THE GLOBAL ARMS TRADE

Transparency in the arms trade

To date, more than 170 States have reported their arms transfers to the United Nations at least once. Some 80 countries consistently provide information. Since 2006 small arms transfers can be reported on as well — most countries submitting reports now include small arms in their submissions.

Register of Conventional Arms Website

TRANSPARENCY IN THE GLOBAL ARMS TRADE

Database on the global arms trade

The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) has collected and disseminated information provided by Governments to the Register of Conventional Arms since its inception. Now, with the launch of the "Global Reported Arms Trade" web site on 18 October, anyone can readily access all data and search by country, year or weapons category.

Register of Conventional Arms Website


TRANSPARENCY IN THE GLOBAL ARMS TRADE

Peace, security, human dignity and development

The "Global Reported Arms Trade" website is a user-friendly tool which will help increase governmental transparency and accountability. Greater openness may ultimately foster restraint in armaments, from which sustainable development can benefit. It would also encourage States to engage in dialogue and nurture mutual trust, thereby preventing conflict and strengthening peace and security.