Governments can report to the United Nations their arms imports and exports. Reporting voluntarily on weapons transfers shows domestic confidence: a mature readiness by the authorities to have some key national defence policies scrutinized by media, academia and others. Also, sharing such information can create trust between countries, and can contribute to early warning and preventive diplomacy. Being open about armaments may even encourage restraint in the transfer or production of weaponry.
Transparency is as important for those countries that are large-scale arms traders, as it is for those importing or exporting few or no weapons.
The United Nations Register of Conventional Arms is an annual reporting mechanism through which governments can share information on weapons they transferred the previous year. Member States reporting to it provide information on the build-up and volume of the conventional arsenals which it deems essential to maintain a credible defence and perform effective peacekeeping tasks.