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Recent trends in the arms trade

United Nation member states are currently discussing the feasibility of an arms trade treaty (ATT) which would seek to create better controls on international arms transfers. This Background Paper is one of a series produced by SIPRI to inform these discussions.

Using the latest available data, this paper describes the ongoing growth in international transfers of major conventional weapons, military spending and arms production. It also describes the increasing complexity of international arms export control policies.

The arms trade is global. The trade in major conventional weapons is dominated by a handful of big exporters. However, even small weapon producers and states without an active arms industry can act as suppliers of either second-hand equipment or newly produced but less technologically advanced weapon systems, such as small arms and light weapons and their ammunition. The prevention of illicit and destabilizing arms transfers is a global concern that requires the active engagement of all members of the international community.

Contents

I. Introduction
II. Recent trends in international arms transfers
III. Recent trends in world military expenditure
IV. Recent trends in world arms production
V. Recent trends in export control mechanisms
VI. Conclusions

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)/EDITORS

Paul Holtom was the Director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme.
Mark Bromley is the Director of the SIPRI Dual-Use and Arms Trade Control programme.
Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman is the Head of the SIPRI Project on Military Expenditure in the Arms and Military Expenditure Programme (currently on leave of absence).
Pieter D. Wezeman is a Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.