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United Nations Arms Embargoes: Their Impact on Arms Flows and Target Behaviour

Embargoes cover.jpg
Publisher: SIPRI and Uppsala University
ISBN 978-91-85114-56-6
November, 2007

In an effort to further improve the effectiveness of the targeting of UN arms embargoes, this report offers a typology to be considered when designing and assessing UN arms embargoes. The typology distinguishes between the different international peace and security end goals of:

  • countering threats against Global Security;
  • strengthening legitimate Government Authority; and
  • achieving the peaceful political settlement of a violent armed conflict through Conflict Management.

The results indicate that embargoes have different impacts on arms flows and target behaviour in these three types of situation. In reaching these conclusions, the researchers have also looked carefully at alternative explanations.

Recommendations for strengthening the implementation of arms embargoes are addressed in particular to the UN Security Council, but will be of interest to all UN member states, UN agencies, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, researchers and the concerned general public.


Executive summary

1. Introduction

2. Assessing the impact of threats of a UN arms embargo

3. Assessing the implementation of UN arms embargoes

4. Assessing the impact of ending a UN arms embargo

5. Recommendations for the UN Security Council


Damien Fruchart is a researcher at Ethix Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Advisors, having previously been a Research Assistant with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Project from October 2006 to May 2007.
Paul Holtom Paul Holtom is the Head of the Conventional Arms and Ammunition Programme at UNIDIR. He was previously the Director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme.
Siemon T. Wezeman is a Senior Researcher in the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme.
Daniel Strandow is a PhD candidate at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University.
Professor Peter Wallensteen has held the Dag Hammarskjöld Chair in Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University since 1985 and has been the Richard G. Starmann Sr Research Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame since 2006.