Ammunition

A close-up view of a load of small arms ammunition about to be destroyed by UNMAS in Sake, Democratic Republic of the Congo

UN Photo/Abel Kavanagh

In more than 100 countries, over the past five decades, poorly-managed ammunition stockpiles have resulted in explosions, often bringing about humanitarian disasters. The unique challenges posed by conventional ammunition lie in their explosive nature and tendency towards instability. The innate chemistry of ammunition necessitates rigorous storage procedures to prevent explosions that can have disastrous humanitarian consequences, including death, injury, displacement and environmental damage.

In addition to the humanitarian and socio-economic consequences, unsecured or poorly managed ammunition stockpiles fuel insecurity. Massive diversion of ammunition to illicit markets has been a catalyst for armed conflict, organized crime and terrorism. Moreover, diverted ammunition is increasingly used to assemble improvised explosive devices.

Taken together, these consequences demonstrate the very serious safety and security challenges posed by inadequately-managed stockpiles.

In response to these concerns, the General Assembly requested the United Nations to develop guidelines for adequate ammunition management to ensure that the United Nations consistently delivers high-quality advice and support (A/RES/63/61). As a result, the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG) were developed in 2011 and the UN SaferGuard Programme was established as the corresponding knowledge management platform.

General Assembly resolutions on “Problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus”:

A/RES/74/65

A/RES/72/55

A/RES/63/61

The UN SaferGuard Programme, managed by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), oversees the dissemination of the IATG: practical guidance on the safe and secure management of ammunition.

Visit UN SaferGuard webpage

The IATG are publicly available to assist national authorities – including armed forces, police officers and border control officials – as well as industry, private security companies and operational non-governmental organizations to enhance the safety and security of ammunition stockpiles. The aim of the IATG is a reduction of the dual risks of unplanned explosions and illicit diversion.

The IATG are voluntary, practical guidelines for use by interested States and other relevant stakeholders to inform the development of national standing operating procedures.

The IATG consist of 12 volumes that provide practical guidance for a ‘through-life’ approach to ammunition management. The IATG can be applied at basic, intermediate, or advanced levels, making the IATG relevant for all situations. These increasingly complex steps are called risk reduction process levels (RRPLs) and take into consideration capacity and resources available.

Key IATG implementation support tools – ranging from a risk reduction checklist to a quantity distance map– are available for immediate use by ammunition experts to improve ammunition safety at www.un.org/disarmament/un-saferguard.

To assist authorities in utilizing the IATG and in developing national standards and procedures, the UN SaferGuard Programme has also published three practical IATG support guides:

Learn more about IATGs

In line with the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Disarmament, specifically action 22 on securing excessive and poorly maintained stockpiles, the Ammunition Management Advisory Team (AMAT) provides technical expert assistance to interested States and partners in accordance with the IATG, including under the UN SaferGuard Quick-Response Mechanism. AMAT seeks to enhance State and regional action on safe and secure management of ammunition and to facilitate effective and sustainable international cooperation and assistance. AMAT is based in Geneva and was established as a joint initiative of UNODA and the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining.