The Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects was borne out of a 2001 United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade of Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects.

An important element of the work of Project Ploughshares is to assist in the implementation of the UN Programme of Action.

The Programme of Action (PoA) requires member nations, among other steps, to:

  • Make illicit gun production/possession a criminal offence
  • Establish a national co-ordination agency on small arms
  • Identify and destroy stocks of surplus weapons
  • Manage stockpiles more effectively
  • Issue end-user certificates for exports/transit
  • Notify the original supplier nation of re-export
  • Support Disarmament, Demobilization & Re-integration (DDR)  of ex-combatants, including collection and destruction of their weapons
  • Support regional agreements and encourage import moratoria
  • Mark guns at point of manufacture for identification and tracing
  • Maintain records of gun manufacture
  • Engage in more information exchange
  • Ensure better enforcement of arms embargoes
  • Include civil society organizations in efforts to prevent small arms proliferation

The PoA remains a watershed document that provides a framework and a follow-up process for national, regional and global action to control small arms.

Small arms have remained on the international agenda in no small part because of the PoA process.

    Regional Agreements

    Regional small arms measures help strengthen the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action by allowing regions to address small arms problems in a way that is uniquely suited to them. Regional action on small arms is vital.  Small arms trafficking cannot be fully controlled by individual countries because illicit trade thrives on porous borders.


    Project Ploughshares is currently undertaking initiatives to strengthen the capacity of governments and civil society in the Caribbean to reduce gun violence and crime.

    Horn of Africa

    Project Ploughshares provided technical assistance to the government of Kenya in drafting the Nairobi Declaration, a ground-breaking regional small arms agreement signed in March 2000 by 10 countries in the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region. The declaration and a subsequent statement by the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) contributed to a cohesive African role in achieving consensus on the Programme of Action on small arms adopted in 2001.

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