Terrorism arms crime nexus

Photo of bullets

Addressing the terrorism-arms-crime nexus: Preventing and combatting the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons and their illicit supply to terrorists. Photo: Adobe Stock photo

“Weapons enable terrorist groups to considerably increase their capabilities, and, sadly, the number of innocent victims. We must prevent them from acquiring weapons which pose a serious threat to international peace and security"

-- Vladimir Voronkov Under-Secretary-General, United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism Executive Director, UNCCT

Trafficking of small arms and light weapons

The international community has increasingly acknowledged and expressed its concern at the nexus between terrorism and multiple forms of organized crime, including trafficking of small arms and light weapons (SALW), as a serious threat to peace, security and an obstacle to sustainable development. Illicitly trafficked and acquired SALW, their parts and components and ammunition, play a critical role as an enabler of armed violence, and as a funding source and threat multiplier of terrorist groups acting alone or in concert, on a national, regional and global scale.

The project will address the terrorism-armscrime nexus, by enhancing criminal justice responses to prevent and combat the illicit trafficking of SALW and to disrupt the illicit supply of such arms to terrorist groups. More specifically, it will contribute to the enhancement of national legislative, strategic and operational capacities of countries in Central Asia. Project activities will include  missions to map the regional situation, take stock of relevant legislation and identify  response capacities to the threat posed by firearms trafficking, terrorism and related crimes.

The project will be co-implemented in 2020/ 2021 by the United Nations Counter Terrorism Centre of the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, through its Global Firearms Programme and in collaboration with the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs

The project is funded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Russian Federation.


The General Assembly and the Security Council, through the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and relevant resolutions, have consistently stressed the need to stem the illicit traffic and supply of small arms and light weapons to terrorists.

The project is supporting the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2370 (2017) and the Madrid Guiding Principles.

The main instruments to counter these transnational threats and prevent the illicit access of weapons to organised crime and terrorist groups are the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, and its supplementary Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, and other global instruments like the Arms Trade Treaty and the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

Central Asian countries have affirmed their political engagement to fight terrorism and transnational crime including by developing a Joint Plan of Action to operationalize the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which is being implemented in the region since 2010.

Project outcomes

  • Enhanced normative and institutional frameworks, and regulatory measures, to prevent and counter terrorist illicit access to SALW, in particular through illicit manufacturing, trafficking or diversion
  • Strengthened capacity of i) border control and customs authorities to detect and dismantle criminal groups and networks engaged in illicit arms trafficking and engaged in effective cross-border cooperation and information exchange; and ii) criminal justice officials to investigate, prosecute and deal effectively with terrorism cases involving illicitly manufactured, trafficked or diverted SALW
  • Effective international judicial and law enforcement cooperation and information sharing at national, regional and international level, as well as exchange of case-based experiences and good practices in detecting, investigating and prosecuting complex cases involving the terrorism- SALW-organized crime nexus


The project on addressing the terrorism-arms-crime nexus aims to contribute to the enhancement of capacities to prevent, detect and counter firearms trafficking and activities associated with terrorism and organized crime in Central Asia. 


Project launch event

Watch the launch event aimed to raise awareness of the nexus between terrorism, organized crime and illicit small arms trafficking.

Launch event remarks

Opening remarks by Vladimir Voronkov, Executive Director of UNCCT, at launching event of the UN project addressing the terrorism-arms-crime nexus in the Central Asian states.

UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy

The UN General Assembly adopted by consensus the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy on 8 September 2006. The strategy is a unique global instrument to enhance national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism. The General Assembly reviews the Strategy every two years, making it a living document attuned to Member States’ counter-terrorism priorities.