The Limits to Measuring the Global Arms Trade

Kenneth Epps Conventional Weapons

Kenneth Epps

The Ploughshares Monitor Winter 2010 Volume 31 Issue 4

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During a period when member states of the United Nations are negotiating the terms of an international treaty to establish high common standards for the transfer of conventional weapons across borders, basic quantitative information about the global arms trade is highly pertinent, if not critical.

However, the arms trade data that is currently available is inconsistent and incomplete.

The wide range of practices and standards among states in regulating and reporting their arms transfers—including no reporting at all—prevents the assembly of an accurate and comprehensive picture of the global trade.

The situation underlines the need for strong, standardized reporting and transparency obligations in an Arms Trade Treaty.

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