Small Arms

Illicit flows of small arms and light weapons undermine security and the rule of law. They are often a factor behind the forced displacement of civilians and massive human rights violations.

In 2001, countries adopted the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA). In it, governments agreed to take measures to improve national small arms laws, import and export controls, stockpile management, and to engage in regional and international cooperation and assistance.

In 2005 they also adopted  the International Tracing Instrument (ITI), which requires governments to ensure that weapons are properly marked. Moreover, it provides a framework for cooperation in weapons tracing – fulfilling one of the commitments governments made in the Programme of Action.

Meetings and national reports on PoA and ITI are always combined.

More on the arms trade


PoA meetings

Meetings under the Programme of Action include Biennial Meetings of States (BMS), Meetings of Governmental Experts (MGE), and Review Conferences (RevCon). They are held in New York.

Upcoming meetings

Past meetings















Security Council

The United Nations Security Council has been increasingly concerned with the issue of small arms and light weapons. Every two years the Council holds a thematic meeting on the topic.



Reports by the Secretary-General


UN peace operations




Standards and Guidelines


Development Goals

  • SDG 16.1 Reducing violence
  • SDG 16.4 Reducing illicit arms trafficking


Regional Implementation

UN Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament facilitate regional cooperation and assist countries and regional organizations in the implementation of UN small arms instruments. Assistance ranges from outreach and capacity building for countries, regional organizations and NGOs to organising training courses and national arms destruction events.




“Women, weapons and war: a gendered critique of multilateral instruments” (2015)

“Gender-Based Violence and the Arms Trade Treaty” (2015)

“Trading arms, bombing towns” (2015)


Statement by the High Representative

High Representative’s Statement for the Global Week of Action against Gun Violence (2015)