Towards Global Standards: Regional Experience in Small Arms Transfer Controls

Kenneth Epps

Kenneth Epps, Daniel Mack, Bernardo Mariani, Ochieng’ Adala and others

Despite the absence of a meaningful outcome from the 2006 United Nations Review Conference on small arms, the meeting served to identify arms transfer controls as a key international concern. This was confirmed a few weeks later, when UN members approved resolutions calling for serious attention to the crafting of a treaty to govern the international trade of conventional weapons.

This report includes papers which were presented during Regional Dimensions of Global SALW Transfer Principles, a seminar hosted by Project Ploughshares in Waterloo, Canada, which brought together international experts from civil society, the Canadian government and the Canadian defence industry. Authors were instructed to (1) review subregional instruments regulating the transfer of conventional weapons and comment on the context from which those instruments emerged; (2) examine transfer control standards, including their implementation and effectiveness, and identify areas for international cooperation; (3) examine the involvement of civil society as a measure of transparency and public awareness; and (4) compare existing regional instruments with the global principles for arms transfer.

As the international community pursues improved global arms transfer controls, the emerging challenge will be to ensure policy and program coherence among initiatives focused on small arms and those addressing conventional weapons as a group. Beyond building consensus on core principles, attention must be given to the resources and methodologies required to ensure effective implementation. The limited capacity of many states may prevent or frustrate implementation, making international cooperation essential to success.

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