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What Happened To Demand? Getting Small Arms Control Back on Track

Publisher: SIPRI
SIPRI, Stockholm:
March, 2024

In the last twenty years the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms, the UN Firearms Protocol and the Arms Trade Treaty have drawn the attention to the human suffering caused by the illicit trafficking and misuse of small arms and light weapons (SALW). While there has been some progress, these instruments are yet to fully realize their potential. Despite the initial consensus on the importance of addressing both supply- and demand-side factors in achieving effective control of SALW, these instruments have focused almost exclusively on technical supply-side factors.

This paper outlines how reviving discussions on demand-side factors could accelerate progress in preventing SALW-related human suffering by drawing insight from fields such as criminology, anthropology, sustainable development and community violence prevention. It concludes with some recommendations on how gender could provide a promising entry point to restart these discussions, and how the European Union is well positioned as a potential champion.


I. Introduction

II. Overview of The Main International Approaches To Small Arms Control

III. Gender as A Conduit Towards Integrating Demand-Side Factors And Multidisciplinary Approaches To Small Arms Control

IV. Recommendations

V. Conclusion


Callum Watson is a Gender Coordinator and Programme Manager at the Small Arms Survey. He works on fostering linkages between small arms control and the women and peace and security agenda, while gender mainstreaming within the Survey more broadly.
Aline Shaban is an Associate Researcher at the Small Arms Survey and has a background in transnational organized crime, criminology and human rights. She works on the prevention of illicit proliferation, with a focus on civilian firearm registries, craft production and arms trafficking dynamics.