Multilateral arms embargoes

Multilateral arms embargoes can be used to coerce states and non-governmental actors to improve their behaviour in the interests of international peace and security or to limit transfers to a particular conflict.

UN arms embargoes are imposed by resolutions adopted under the authority of Chapter VII, Article 41, of the United Nations Charter by at least 9 of the 15 members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC); with no vetoes by any of the five permanent members (P5). There are two types of UNSC arms embargo: voluntary and mandatory. UN members are legally obliged to enforce mandatory arms embargoes, having pledged in Chapter I, Article 2.5, of the UN Charter to 'refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action'. 

Most European Union (EU) arms embargoes are imposed by Common Positions adopted unanimously by the Council of the EU in the framework of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Member States are legally bound to adapt their national policies at once to these Common Positions, without having to implement changes in national legislation. The Council has made it a habit to translate each mandatory UN embargo into a Common Position, making EU-wide implementation more systematic and timely. Other EU arms embargoes implement UN embargoes but with additional EU specific requirements. The EU can also impose arms embargoes that have no UN counterpart. In a few cases the EU member states have agreed to arms embargoes that are solely political commitments.

Other regional and sub-regional organisations, such as the OSCE or the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), have imposed multilateral arms embargoes. Enter the SIPRI Arms Embargoes Database

SIPRI maintains a database of multilateral arms embargoes and describes developments in arms embargoes in the SIPRI Yearbook. Annual summaries of arms embargo related events can be found at: 2013 - 20122011 - 2010 - 2009 2008 -  2007 - 2006 - 2005 - 2004 -2003 - 2002. 


SIPRI Arms Transfers Database

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SIPRI Arms Embargoes Database

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SIPRI National Reports Database

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