International arms flows: monitoring, sources and obstacles

This report provides an overview of the most important initiatives and methods to monitor arms flows and discusses their validity and utility.

Most violence requires arms to be carried. Good insight into arms flows is therefore crucial in understanding the potential of violence. But how is the flow of arms to conflict and non-conflict zones monitored?

Despite the availability of valuable information there is no single database providing continuously detailed monitoring flows of all categories of arms. Hence, despite the need for general information many practical studies will have pinched together evidence from various sources. This is illustrated by brief case studies on arms transfers to Syria, Turkey, Ukraine and Yemen. The author finally presents a set of recommendations to improve the information collection on arms flows and better utilise already available information.


This Report has been commissioned by the Netherlands Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence within the PROGRESS framework agreement, lot 5, 2017. Responsibility for the contents and for the opinions expressed rests solely with the authors; publication does not constitute an endorsement by the Netherlands Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence.