Research project

Assessing the Role of Arms Control in Managing Conflict: A Comprehensive Examination of Weapons and Ammunition Management Frameworks, Institutions and Processes in Conflict-affected Settings (WAM I)

States in conflict-affected settings are often disproportionately burdened by the illicit flow and availability of arms and ammunition, which impedes their efforts to provide security to their populations, build strong institutions and pursue sustainable development. Current discussions at international and regional fora indicate a growing understanding that a more comprehensive approach is needed to address the threat posed by the illicit proliferation of arms and ammunition in conflict-affected settings. In 2015, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters recommended ‘undertak[ing] a study to assess the role of arms control in managing conflicts, in particular of peacekeeping missions of the United Nations and regional organizations.’ In pursuit of this, UNIDIR will undertake the WAM I project which seeks to comprehensively and systematically assess the role of arms control in managing conflict.

This project is comprised of three inter-connected components:

  1. A comprehensive baseline study: In cooperation with host States and relevant United Nations peacekeeping and/or political missions, this component seeks to establish baselines of national institutional capacities and processes to govern arms and ammunition in line with relevant international and regional norms and standards. This component will identify the strengths and vulnerabilities of weapons and ammunition management (WAM) institutions and processes, and help develop a national roadmap with options to strengthen controls at the national level in conflict-affected settings. In doing so, this research reinforces policy dialogue which will identify and/or review priorities, leading to improvements in institutional frameworks governing WAM; and improves understanding among United Nations Member States on the role of the United Nations in supporting the establishment of strong, accountable and sustainable national WAM institutions. This component builds on UNIDIR’s ISAP project (2015-2016).
  2. An Expert Meeting Series: Through a series of informal technical consultations, the overarching objective of this component is to identify concrete options and avenues for policymakers and practitioners to effectively operationalize WAM processes in line with existing international standards and guidelines—namely the ISACS and IATGs—in conflict-affected settings. The meeting series will explore areas of shared understanding among experts on essential arms control elements applicable to WAM in conflict-affected settings and examine the need for further guidance and assistance tools in supporting the operationalization of such elements. This will include a discussion on how such arms control elements may in practice need to be adjusted and/or adapted to national and local needs and realities. The discussions held as part of this meeting series are also expected to contribute to efforts aimed at ensuring the sustainable use of standards and guidelines in conflict-affected settings.
  3. A Feasibility Study Pertaining to Lifting Arms Embargoes: Building on recommendations from the High Level Review Panel of United Nations Sanctions, this study seeks to explore the feasibility of designing a benchmarking methodology to assess progress made in the implementation of arms embargo and related WAM activities at national level, so as to better inform considerations pertaining to the lifting of the arms embargo. This feasibility study has two key objectives. First, to better understand the processes and methodologies applied for (partially) lifting a United Nations arms embargo. Second, to identify good practices and lessons learned in the processes and approaches used by States under arms embargo to operationalize and benchmark implementation of embargo obligations and related WAM initiatives at the national level. This study will examine whether improvements in benchmarking national-level implementation could further improve information sharing, and enhance arms control-relevant dialogue among stakeholders involved in considerations pertaining to the lifting of arms embargoes. In doing so, this study seeks to improve the sharing of expertise, experience and lessons learned among relevant stakeholders on the methods and processes involved in (partially) lifting arms embargoes; as well as strengthen shared understanding of methodologies for measuring national-level implementation of WAM as it relates to arms embargo requirements. As a note, this study will explore benchmarking mechanisms on a country-specific basis.

Researchers: Himayu Shiotani, Hardy Giezendanner, Daniel Golston

Support from UNIDIR's core funders provides the foundation for all of the Institute's activities.
In addition, dedicated project funding was received from the Government of Germany.