Since the early 1990s an increasing number of governments have chosen to publish national reports on their arms exports. The initial push to publish these reports came from various national parliaments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) demanding greater oversight of government implementation of arms export control policies. Such demands gained particular traction following a spate of arms export-related scandals in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
National reports on arms exports vary enormously in both the amount of information they contain and the level of detail they provide. At a minimum, they tend to contain background information on the states' national export control system and details of the arms export licences granted. However, some reports contain significantly more detail, including descriptions of the goods licensed for export and exported and the type of end-user.
A number of states that do not publish national reports on arms exports do release annual official data on the overall financial value of their arms exports. This data can be made available either as part of a published report, a press release or via an attributed or unattributed quote in a media report. States that make data on their arms exports available in this way include Israel, South Korea, Russia, Turkey and several other significant arms exporters.
SIPRI's work on national reports includes:
- conducting research projects examining the different national approaches to reporting
- maintaining an archive of all publicly accessible national reports on arms exports.
- describing developments in national reporting on arms exports in the SIPRI Yearbook