The Global Market for Small Arms and Light Weapons 








Rachel Zahorsky

Law of Nationbuilding

Professor H. Perritt

May 20, 2005









                                                                                                                                                                        *The above cartoon is for educational purposes only.

                                                                                                                                                                           Proper licensing has been secured for the purpose of                                                                                             this seminar paper.



Despite their world-wide prevalence, there is no universal definition for “small arms” or “light weapons.”  In 1997, the United Nations loosely defined a small arm as “one that can be fired, maintained and transported by one person.”  It defined a light weapon as one that is “used by a small crew and transported on a light vehicle or pack animal.”[1] 

Examples of small arms include: revolvers and self loading pistols, rifles, sub-machine guns, assault rifles and light machine guns.[2]  Light weapons include: heavy machine-guns, certain types of grenade launchers, portable anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns, and portable launchers of anti-aircraft missile systems.[3]  They are considered the “weapon of choice” in most conflicts because they are cheap, portable, lethal, long-lasting and easy to operate.[4]  They are the subject of many illicit activities, and are exchanged for currency, diamonds, drugs and other contraband.  They escalate violence and have been used in nearly every contemporary conflict known to man.  [5]  As Robert Muggah and Peter Bachelor, analysts for the Small Arms Survey, a European research institute, report in a recent study, "the durability of small arms ensures that once they are present in a country they present a continuous risk -- especially in societies where there are large accumulations of weapons.... They frequently outlast peace agreements and are taken up again in the post-conflict period"[6]




Most insurgent groups have neither guided leadership nor the benefit of learning from previous insurgent operations.  However, a close examination of another insurgency can offer guidance and insight regarding weapons supply.  One particular operation a hypothetical insurgent group should consider is the Irish Republican Army (“IRA”).  It is helpful to first study a brief history of the IRA. 

A.     A Brief History of the IRA and Arms Acquisition

            In 1954, the IRA accomplished its most successful arms raid ever.  An IRA group from Dublin stole a cattle truck, crossed the northern border into Armagh, and raided the barracks of the British Army.  Surprisingly, little force was used, and none of the eighteen (18) guards were killed.  The untrained IRA raiders successfully drove the truck, undetected, back into Ireland complete with 250 rifles, 37 Sten guns, and 9 machine guns.  While the cunningness and bravery of the raiders cannot be disregarded, it is important to closely examine key fundamental facts which led to the raid’s success.[7]

            First, the British were completely unprepared for such an attack.  Second, and most importantly, there was no method of raising the alarm.  Ultimately, this incident became a major propaganda coup for the IRA.  Afterward, the IRA was able to raise hundreds of recruits.[8]

            By 1962, monetary funds the IRA received from the United States dwindled and the organization polled less than three (3) percent at the elections.  Following the Belfast Riot, it was evident the IRA desperately needed arms to defend themselves and the Catholic community in whose names they were fighting.  Otherwise, the IRA risked being viewed not as protection, but as an excuse for Protestants to prosecute them. 

The IRA sent men to look for arms they had buried six (6) years prior.  However, many of the weapons in the Irish Republic had been intercepted by the British government.  The IRA had to acquire arms from abroad.  There were many unique concerns and surprises the IRA had to recognize and deal with in their quest for arms and ammunition.[9]

            First, the IRA was not part of a larger terrorist network.  In fact, to many other insurgencies, the IRA appeared insular and single-minded.  They did not have contacts outside of Ireland nor access to unlimited funds.  Despite popular belief, the IRA never received monetary assistance from the Soviet Union.  In contrast to the IRA, today’s Palestine Liberation Organization (“PLO”) possesses large amounts of currency and is funded by members from wealthy Arab nations.  Additionally, many of the PLO’s members are from nations that have unlimited access to arms from Eastern Europe.[10]

             Second, the IRA needed guns and explosives in large quantities arriving on a regular basis, rather than at sporadic intervals.  At this time, the IRA was a low intensity conflict with approximately 300 members.  In contrast, the Red Army Faction, which has fewer than 100 members, needs very few arms and can collect them over a longer and irregular period of time.  In addition, it is fairly easy for the Red Army Faction to acquire arms from continental Europe because European borders are lightly policed.  As a result, moving weapons across European borders is relatively easy. 

The IRA is opposed by a dedicated and professional police force and the considerable resources of the British Army.  Ireland is surrounded by the sea, and both the water and air are well patrolled.  Though the IRA had enough weapons to fight, it was not on the desired scale.  The IRA most desired a guided missile system which would have allowed them to shoot down British helicopters. [11]

            One great benefit to the IRA was the influx of money and sympathy from the United States.  Irish immigrants residing in the United States and Americans of Irish descent demonstrated support for the cause of the IRA.  The IRA received strong support from the United States organization, Irish Northern Aid (“Noraid”), which was officially established to raise money for humanitarian purposes.  Though Noraid did support the IRA, the IRA started a false rumor that without the assistance of Noraid, it would collapse. [12]

            The purpose of this rumor was not only to get more money from sympathetic Americans, but also to show England that the IRA was supported by the world’s largest democracy.  Though the British government chastised United States administrations for its support, weapons continued to find their way from the United States to the IRA.  Specifically, the IRA received automatic rifles that were unpopular with the American military.  This is one interesting example of how arms dealers find an alternative market for a particular weapon. [13]

            Additionally, the IRA had to counter the surveillance and enforcement of the British Government.  First, the IRA countered the British Government by increasing the organization’s security.  However, the IRA made a monstrous mistake by allowing a prominent leader travel to Czechoslovakia to meet with an American arms dealer.  British authorities immediately identified the IRA leader and tracked his movements on the continent.  As a result, the British government notified Dutch authorities of a possible arms shipment coming into Dublin from Czechoslovakia.  The Dutch authorities opened the shipment and quickly discovered weapons.  After this incident, Czech dealers refused to deal with the IRA. [14]

            Following the Czech disaster, the IRA continued to get small hauls of weapons from the US and Europe.  Some shipments were stopped by the British government.  Others were simply monitored by the British, but allowed through in hopes of discovering IRA hiding spots.  Many found their way to the IRA undetected. 

At this time the IRA also started increasing its own technological skills and began to create its own bombs.  However, the quest for weapons continued.  [15]

B.     One Success and One Failure

            In conducting an examination of weapons acquisition by the IRA, two significant

operations should be noted.  One was a great success, the other a complete failure.  Both

were funded by Colonel Muammar Gadaffi of Libya.[16] 

                                                            1.      Operation #1: A Complete Failure

            In 1973, a German arms dealer agreed to transport much needed weapons for the IRA to Ireland.  The IRA sent a prominent member of the organization, Daithi O’Connell, to arrange the transaction.  As the transport ship traveled from the Mediterranean to Tripoli, the British government spotted O’Connell on deck, and placed the ship under surveillance.  The ship was loaded with weapons in Tripoli and set course for Ireland.  However, the British surveillance team notified the Irish government that the arms were on the way. 

When the ship was seized, O’Connell escaped, but the Irish government apprehended over five tons of weapons.  Subsequently, Colonel Gadaffi, the financial broker of the operation, broke all ties with the IRA.  He was angered by the failure and indifferent to the IRA’s cause.  Originally, Colonel Gandaffi’s backing was spawned by a personal need to embarrass the British through the IRA’s attacks.  After the failure, the IRA did not hear from Gandaffi again for ten years.[17]

                                                            2.      Operation #2: An Enormous Success

The IRA finally resumed ties with Colonel Gandaffi after a British policewoman was allegedly gunned down by a Libyan diplomat in London.  Immediately after, all Libyans were expelled from Great Britain and all relations between the two countries were severed.  In response, Colonel Gadaffi wanted to punish the British government for criticizing him in the aftermath of the shooting.  He desired a spectacular attack that would cause a great deal of damage and embarrass Britain in the eyes of the world.[18]

            At first, the weapons from Libya were old and unexciting, and were chosen from a random warehouse.  However, after United States aircrafts were granted permission to take off in Great Britain and subsequently bombed Tripoli as punishment for supporting terrorists, Colonel Gandaffi supplied the IRA with metric tons of explosives and rocket grenades.  The IRA was encouraged to send the largest ships they could find, and Gandaffi would fill them up.[19]

            The IRA successfully received tons of weapons until one shipment was accidentally discovered by the Dutch.  French patrol aircraft noticed the Eskund, a ship registered to sail from Malta to Gibraltar, erratically change course numerous times. Acting on a tip that the ship may be transporting illegal drugs, French authorities seized the ship and uncovered 110 tons of weapons, including a SAM missile.  The weapons were contained in boxes stamped Libyan Armed Forces and were set to explode.  Though this last trip from Libya ultimately failed, the entire operation could be deemed a great success.  Over 120 tons of weapons were already in possession of the IRA, and the British government never suspected that Libya, one of the most watched countries in the world, was the supplier.[20]          

            There are specific key elements which led to the IRA’s successful acquisition of weapons.  First, the IRA exercised incredibly tight security.  The organization worked in a complicated cell structure, and each cell was kept uninformed about the activities of the other.  Second, the Eskund did not go straight to Libya, but first stopped in Panama where it was re-named and re-registered.  Finally, IRA members received special interrogation training to insure utmost secrecy.[21]  Lessons learned from the IRA can be easily adopted by different insurgent groups and applied to additional small arms and light weapons operations.  In a market driven by supply and operated in an environment lacking international coordination, insurgent operations may quickly discover unlimited access to small arms and light weapons. 





There are at least 639 million firearms in the world today, mostly manufactured by the United States or the European Union.[22]  The global availability of small arms has a significant international impact.[23]  The illicit use of small arms sustains conflicts, disrupts human development and undermines the development plans of many donors, governments, and Non-Governmental Organizations (“NGO’s”).[24]  Without effective international regulation and enforcement, victims from the use of illicit small arms in armed conflicts do not receive help from government or private agencies for the costs of treatment and rehabilitation as well as long-term care which might include counseling and medical aids.[25] 

Mark Malloch Brown, a former administrator to the United Nations Development Programme and current chief of staff under General Kofi Annan stated, “Small arms have an insidious effect on development: by understanding the safety and security of communities, threatening livelihoods, and destroying social networks, they at best hold back and at worst contribute to the reversal of hard-won developmental gains.”[26]  The work of the United Nations is important to ensure international peace and security, but it is also the responsibility of its Member States to support and strictly enforce international small arms regulations. 




            Though several nation states have considered a global arms treaty, currently there are no international treaties or laws specifically addressing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.[27]  Under the protection of the United Nations Charter article 51, “States uphold the right of individual and collective self-defense.”  Article 2, paragraph 7, also specifically forbids the United Nations from intervening in matters that are within a Member State’s domestic jurisdiction.  Because of these and other international laws protecting sovereignty, there has been no established document forbidding the right to own a firearm nor has there been much action to create legislation for it. [28]

            United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, stated in 1999 that “small arms are widely used in conflicts in which a high proportion of the casualties are civilians, and in which violence has been perpetrated in gross violation of international law.”[29]  The United Nations first raised the issue of proliferation of small arms and weapons on December 12, 1995, in the General Assembly Small Arms Resolution [30]     

            Since then, the United Nations has become increasingly involved in post-conflict measures to ensure the safety of citizens of the state, peace keepers, and humanitarians who have found themselves surrounded by enormous amounts of weapons moving freely among combatants, ex-combatants, and civilians.[31]  The Security Council also addressed this issue on September 24, 1999. [32]  “The Council acknowledges that the challenge posed by small arms is multifaceted and involves security, humanitarian and development dimensions.”[33]  Finally, in the Millennium Declaration of September 2000, United Nations Member States collectively decided to “take concerted action to end illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons, especially by making arms transfers more transparent and supporting regional disarmament measures.”[34]

In July 2001, the United Nations held the Conference on the Illicit Traffic in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.[35]  A Program of Action (“PoA”) was derived by the Member States at the conference with a national, regional, and global plan in the areas of legislation, destruction of weapons that were confiscated, seized, or collected, as well as international cooperation and assistance to strengthen the ability of States in identifying and tracing illicit arms and light weapons.[36]  This document also provided provisions for follow up mechanisms to oversee the implementation of this plan.[37]  The General Assembly welcomed the adoption of PoA in Resolution 56/24V and supported the Members States’ actions.[38]  Though this was a great step towards international arms regulation, subsequent UN statements noted that the Conference “will not become international law and will not result in a legally binding treaty.”[39]





            Throughout the Clinton administration, the United States aggressively continued

to push foreign arms sales.  President Clinton eliminated former President Carter’s restriction on sales of arms to Latin America.  Between 1993 and 1997 the United States either sold or gave away $190 billion in small arms and light weapons. [40]

 In 1995, a proposed bill to tie all US arms exports to the customer’s democracy record, human rights record, and its willingness to report arms imports and exports to the United Nations was struck down by both the House of Representatives and Senate.  In 1996, Congress created the Defense Export Loan Guarantee program to finance the sales of US arms to foreign countries.  In essence, if a country defaults on its loans for weapons, United States taxpayers will foot the bill.  [41]

Regarding Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic as new, potential arms buyers, the United States government lobbied aggressively to have these countries admitted to NATO.   Once admitted, new NATO countries must upgrade their weapons systems to NATO standards, typically requiring them to modify or replace many of their weapons.  Though weapons exports from the United States have increased since September 11, 2001, United States arms manufacturers are bound by only moderate regulations.[42]



A.     The Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations [43],[44]


            The Arms Control Export Act (“AECA”) establishes procedures for the sale and transfer of military equipment and related services, specifically requiring that weapons be transferred only for self-defense, internal security, and UN operations.[45]  The AECA also requires that the President notify Congress either fifteen or thirty days in advance of an arms sale over $14 million.[46] 

The AECA is implemented through the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”), which is created by the State Department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls.[47]  The ITAR establishes categories of equipment that are considered “munitions” and are therefore subject to export controls by the State Department.[48] 

The AECA originally contained a mechanism whereby a Congressional veto could overrule the President’s decision to transfer arms to a particular country with a majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but this provision was later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.[49]  Currently, Congress may override the President’s decision with a two-thirds majority in both Houses.[50]  Specific provisions within the AECA and ITAR function to:

a.       Control the export and temporary import of defense articles, technical data and defense services itemized on the U.S. Munitions List;

b.      Require export licenses or temporary import licenses be obtained from the  Department of State prior to shipping any item, technical data, software or related article providing any defense service as defined in the ITAR;

c.       Be administered by the Department of State in consultation primarily with the Department of Defense;

d.      Impose extensive record keeping and reporting requirements;

e.       Require registration with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls as a prerequisite to obtaining any export authorizations from State;

f.        Apply to exports, temporary imports and re-exports of any item, technical data or defense service enumerated on the U.S. Munitions List;

g.       Apply to exports and re-exports of U.S. items references in (a), above, depending upon the degree of U.S. content in each item or technology (10%/25% minimum standards); and

h.       Apply to foreign persons, as well as U.S. persons, whether in the United States or abroad.


B.     Antiterrorism Laws: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct the Terrorism Act of 2001  (the “U.S. Patriot Act”) (incorporated into over 150 statutory citations)[51]


            The U.S. Patriot Act was passed in response to the events of September 11, 2001[52].  This legislation provides the U.S. Executive Branch expanded investigatory and monitoring powers, additional controls over people’s access to the United States, limitations on due process in certain circumstances and restrictions on certain information subject to U.S. jurisdiction.[53]  This legislation authorized:

a.       Registration requirements for certain foreign people in the United States on visas;

b.      Limitations on judicial review for detention of suspected “enemies of the State” or suspected terrorists;

c.       New regulations affecting information sharing with the U.S. Government by insured depository institutions;

d.      New restrictions on monetary transfers to address potential money laundering services

e.        Expanded application of the law to terrorism which transcends national boundaries





            The various and sundry small arms regulations across the globe assist in the


proliferation of small arms and light weapons, as there is no common system of


enforcement and many transactions occur across multiple borders. 


A.     Europe

                                                            1.      Italy


              Italy is one of the world’s largest producers of handguns, shotguns, and ammunition.[54]  As the turnover of Italian companies specializing in the small arms sector increases, the governing state controls have been reduced.[55]  Many Italian companies have raised the need for commercial confidentiality, making it difficult for the government to track arms transfers.[56]  Furthermore, the Italian government, similar to most European governments, does not define small arms but instead only distinguishes between “war arms” and “civil arms.”[57] 

The exportation of “war arms” requires governmental authorization and an end-user certificate.[58]  In contrast, the exportation of “civil arms,” which includes almost all types of small arms, simply requires permission from a local police commander.[59]  In sum, the Italian government is hesitant to prosecute arms trafficking violations that do not “threaten the internal security” of the country.[60]   For example, in August of 2000, the Italian Supreme Court refused to prosecute a known arms dealer who possessed diagrams and contracts in his hotel room because the weapons had not yet touched Italian soil.  [61]

                                                            2.      Denmark

            Danish law allows for the transport of small arms and light weapons on its ships to countries blacklisted by the European Union. [62]  This practice encourages a lack of transparency in arms transfers, and allows Denmark to circumvent United Nations embargos.[63] 

                                                            3.      United Kingdom

             The Export Control Act of 2002 was designed to bring the activities of UK-based arms brokers under control of the government.[64]  However, similar to French law, the UK Export Control Act does not include arms deals which take place abroad or offshore.[65]  Some exceptions are allowed for torture equipment, long-range missiles, and embargo breaking.[66]  The last is especially difficult to enforce because the Act requires proof of intent, and many dealers do not know where the final shipment will land.[67]  Additionally, since September 11, 2002, an increased number of arms are being exported from the United Kingdom to new-found allies such as, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Philippines, regardless of human rights or development concerns.[68]  



                                                            4.      European Union in General

             With the expanded European Union, arms brokers find countries with the weakest arms restraints to do their deals.[69]  The EU’s first step toward international regulation was the 2003 European Union Common Position on Arms Brokering.[70]  Though not a treaty, this common position requires all member states to “take all the necessary measures to regulate brokering activities taking place within their countries.”[71]  Additionally, lawful engagement of small arms and light weapons transactions should require written authorization from the competent authorities of the member states.[72]  Though strongly worded, this common position only requires nation states to consider more effective regulations within their borders, and does not mention nationals who live or broker abroad.[73] 

B.     Arabic Nations

            Fed by conflicts that spread across the Middle East, the trade of small arms and light weapons has been nearly uncontrollable.  Political instability in many areas and a lack of regional cooperation, assures the rise of illicit small arms trade.[74]

C.     Africa

            Reducing the availability and use of small arms in places where fighting has ended is critically important to Africa's development prospects.  In some parts of Africa, a Soviet-designed AK-47 assault rifle, coveted for its simplicity and firepower, can be purchased for as little as $6, or traded for a chicken or sack of grain.   In 1999 the Red Cross estimated that in the Somali capital of Mogadishu alone, the city's 1.3 million residents possessed over a million guns lions of light arms.  Further, it is common for criminal organizations  to traffic illicit small arms through the boarders of many African nations, using their ports as integral transportation points for the arms trade.  The widespread abuse of weapons diverts scarce government resources from health and education to public security, discourages investment and economic growth, and deprives developing countries of the skills and talents of the victims of small arms. [75]      

D.    Latin America

            Latin America explicitly demonstrates the ill effects of the small arms trade.  From armed guerrillas and paramilitaries in Colombia to street gangs in El Salvador, illicitly trafficked and manufactured small arms and light weapons contribute to many of the region's most pressing problems.[76]

            However,  Latin American countries came together at the “2003 Lima Challenge” where States pledged to review their stockpiles, destroy surplus weapons and upgrade stockpile facilities.  Over 17,575 firearms and 8,000 rounds of ammunition were destroyed in 2002 in Argentina, Brazil, and Peru. [77]

E.     .  Asia

            Accumulation of and illegal trafficking in small arms has intensified conflicts in some regions and caused a gross number of civilian casualties.  Much is unknown about this region, but there are increasing efforts to monitor this area.  The Chinese government has taken its own proactive stance by creating laws on gun control in 1996 and on the management of exports of military material in 1998.  [78]




A.     Supply: Where has the great influx of weapons in the last 10 years come  from?


            One significant source of the small arms and light weapons problem can be traced to the days of the Cold War when the United States and the Soviet Union fought for the control of third world nations.[79]  During this period, both nations either donated weapons to developing nations as “military aid”, or granted them under “soft loan arrangements.”[80]  However, it was primarily the end of the Cold War that caused small arms manufacturers to seek alternative markets abroad and flock to developing countries in Asia and Africa to compensate for domestic defense budget cuts[81] 

            In the last decade, governments’ control of the manufacturing, possession, and trade of small arms has given way to privatized military firms, private firms that sell military services.[82]  Privatized military firms sell everything from small teams of commandos to massive military supply operations, and have operated in places as diverse as Sierra Leone and Iraq, and on behalf of many states, including the United States.[83]       These private companies also produce most of the small arms and light weapons today.  As one recent survey noted, 600 manufacturing firms in approximately 95 countries produce small arms, light weapons, or other types of ammunition and parts.[84]  Another study estimated that approximately 385 manufacturing companies in 64 countries produced arms in the 1990’s, an almost two hundred percent increase from the prior decade.[85]

B.     How do the Legal, Black,  and Gray Small Arms and Light Weapons Markets flow together?  What is the Reality of the Global Arms Market?


            Globally, the legal small arms and light weapons trade is valued at an estimated $4-6 billion annually, and account for eighty to ninety percent of the total annual value of the small arms trade.[86]  At the same time, small arms and light weapons represent only five percent of the total value of legal arms exports.[87]  Although this is a small percentage, small arms and light weapons exports account for as much as 90 percent of causalities in armed conflicts.[88] 

            In addition to this legal trade, there is also a substantial illicit small arms and light weapons market.[89]  The illicit market includes sales to recipient countries that have to identifiable legal government or authority…and transfers by governments to non-state actors (i.e. rebel insurgent groups).[90]  In addition, there are cases where governments illegally hire brokers to transfer weapons (e.g. Iran-Contra Affair).[91]  Such transfers may be in violation of the supplier and/or recipient country’s laws or policies.[92]  They may also blatantly disregard international law.[93]  Regulating the illicit market is one of the greatest challenges to the international community today.  

            It must be noted that the legal and illicit small arms and light weapons trades go hand in hand, as demonstrated below in Sierra Leone. [94]  The illicit market has two interconnected areas, the “grey market” and the “black market.” [95]  “Grey market transfers are usually covert, conducted by governments, government sponsored brokers, or other entities, that exploit loopholes or intentionally circumvent national/international law or policies.”  Black market transfers, by contrast, include the “type of illegal arms trafficking taking place in clear violation of national and/or international laws and policies, and without the government’s official knowledge, consent, or control.” [96]

C.     Distribution: Moving from Seller to Agent to Buyer to Final Destination:  The Difficulty of Tracking Small Arms and Light Weapons


            The typical movement of arms entails cross-border shipments and country stop-overs and involves the assistance of customs inspectors, licensing governments, weapons flights, and even heads of state.[97]  The difficulty of tracking the distribution of small arms is well documented by the United Nations Security Counsel in regards to Sierra Leone.[98]              Through their investigation of weapons supply to the Revolutionary United Front (“RUF”), a UN Panel of Experts discovered that “virtually all of the weapons shipped into RUF territory are trans-shipped through at least two other countries…”[99]

            The panel report cites a 68-ton shipment of Ukrainian weapons to the RUF Sierra Leone via Burkina Faso.  Ukrainian documents showed that a Gibraltar-based company representing the Ministry of Defense of Burkina Faso, and a Ukrainian state-owned company, Ukrspetsexport, contracted for the weapons.  Moreover, Air Foyle, a British aircraft company acting as agent for the Ukrainian air carrier, was under contract to ship the weapons via a Gibraltar-based chartering company.  After the Minister of Defense in Burkina Faso issued Ukrspetsexport an end-user certificate authorizing the Gibraltar-based company to purchase weapons on behalf of Burkina Faso, the Ukraine licensed the sale. [100]

            Burkina Faso, certified as both the end-user and the place of final destination, denies U.N. evidence indicating that the weapons were re-exported to a third country.  The U.N. investigation revealed that some weapons were offloaded in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, others were trucked to the Western Burkina Faso city of Bobo Dioulasso, and the remaining weapons made their way to Liberia. [101]

            The fact that these weapons found their way to Liberia is significant because Charles Taylor, Liberia’s then-president and former U.S. prison escapee was closely involved in fueling the Sierra Leone conflict.  One of his business partners and primary confidant was an internationally wanted Israeli named Leonid Minin; it was Minin’s BAZ-111 that flew the weapons to Sierra Leone.  Three days after the Ukrainian weapons arrived, Taylor’s private presidential jet flew into Ouagadougou, where the weapons were loaded on board and flown back to Liberia.  In all, this process was repeated three times, and three additional flights were made into Bobo Dioulasso to pick up the weapons located there.  [102]

D.    Financing the Acquisition of Small Arms and Light Weapons

            Every individual involved the Sierra Leno weapons trafficking scheme was compensated to ensure their compliance.  The financier was Tatal El-Ndine, a wealthy businessman from Lebanon.  El-Ndine pays “Liberians fighting in Sierra Leone alongside the RUF, and those bringing diamonds out of Sierra Leone” personally.  He also brings “foreign businessmen and investors to Liberia…who are willing to cooperate with the regime in legitimate business activities {including dealings} in weapons and illicit diamonds.”  Many of these businessmen operate internationally, obtaining their weapons primarily from Eastern Europe. [103] 

            In addition, loopholes in the international financial regulatory system foster the destabilization of national supervisions and enforcement procedures.[104]  The existing global financial infrastructure consists of “(a) small international business companies or trusts, established in jurisdictions of convenience, which establish (b) back account at local financial institutions, which have corresponding banking relationships with (c) major international financial institutions, which (d) move funds willy-nilly throughout the world without regard to the provenance of the funds.”[105]  One of the best means of reducing illicit activities, such as the illegal transfer of arms, is to establish accountability and traceability standards for international financial institutions. [106]


            VIII. CONCLUSION

            To conclude, in many parts of the world, the Russian AK-47 is considered romantic.  It is a symbol of guerilla resistance and even appears on the Mozambique national flag.  [107]  Small arms are accessible, durable, and cheap, and without international cooperation, enforcement, and accountability, the small arms and light weapons global trade will continue to thrive.[108] 


[1] United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs: (accessed May 15, 2002).

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Small Arms Survey Development Held Hostage: Assessing the Effects of Small Arms on Human Development

[7] Para. Engines of War/Merchants of Death/New Arms Race (1990); see also, Tim Pat Coogan, The IRA, A History 325-331 (1993).

[8] Para. Id.

[9] Para. Id.

[10] Para. Id.

[11] Para. Id.

[12] Para. Id.

[13] Para Id.

[14] Para. Id.

[15] Para. Id.

[16] Para. Id.

[17] Para. Id.

[18] Para. Id.,; see also The IRA, A History at 443-444.

[19] Para. Id.

[20] Para. Id.

[21] Para. Id.

[22]  The United Nations, General Assembly, General and Complete Disarmament, U.N. Doc. A/52/298 (1997); see also: Small Arms Survey 2003: Development Denied: http//

[23] Id.

[24] Id.

[25] Id.

[26]U.N. Charter art. 51; see also  United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs:

[27] Id. at xvi; see also Small Arms Survey, supra note 21, at 123-26.

[28] Id.

[29] Marcaillou, Agnes.  “Statement to the UN-OSCE on the Illicit Trade of Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects in South Eastern Europe”.  Ljubljana, Slovenia, 11 March 2003.

[30] General Assembly Small Arms Resolution A/RES/50/70B, 12 December 1995; see also Small Arms Survey:

[31] Small Arms Survey 2003: Development Denied:  http/

[32] Security Council 4048 Meeting,, S/PV.4048, 24 September 1999. 

[33] Id.

[34] 2000 United Nations Millennium Declaration, 8 September 2000:

[35] United Nations Conference on the Illicit Traffic in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects:, U.N.Doc. A/COF.192/15

[36] Id.

[37] Id.

[38] Id.

[39] Setting the Record Straight, U.N. Conference on the Illicit Trade of Small Arms and Light Weapons, July 2001: arms/Facts.htm.

[40] Para. The Foundation for National Progress, U.S. Arms Sales: Arms Makers’ Cozy Relationship with the Government (2004); see also The Foundation for National Progress, U.A. Arms Sales:

[41] Id.


[43] Arms Export Control Act, 22 U.S.C. §§ 2778 et. seq. (“AECA”).

[44]  International Traffic in Arms Regulations, 22 C.F.R part 120, et seq. (“ITAR”).

[45] Lora Lumpe & Jeff Donarski, The Arms Trade Revealed: A Guide for Investigators and Activists 8 (1998),

[46] Id.

[47] Id.

[48] Id.

[49] Id.

[50] INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983).

[51] Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, P.L. 107-56, 115 Stat. II 272 (2001) (the “U.S. Patriot Act”)

[52] Id.

[53] Id.

[54] A Catalogue of Failures, G8 Arms Exports and Human Rights Violations at 7.1 Production and Trade - 7.4 Law on Arms Exports (2003).

[55] Id.

[56] Id.

[57] Id.

[58] Id.

[59] Id.

[60] Id.

[61]  Id.

[62] Amnesty International: Undermining Global Security: The European Union’s arms exports (2003): http:// transport.

[63] Id.

[64] The Export Control Act 2002

[65] Id.

[66] Id.

[67] Id.

[68] Id.

[69] Amnesty International Undermining Global Security: The European Union’s arms exports (2003):

[70] European Union Common Position on Arms Brokering (2003)

[71] Id.

[72] Id.

[73] Id.

[74] Para. Small Arms Survey 2003: Development Denied, note 21 supra.

[75] Id.; see also African Recovery, Vol. 15 #4,  December 2001, Counting the Cost of Gun Violence 1 (2001). 

[76] The OAS Firearms Convention:

[77] Para. Small Arms Survey 2003, note 21 supra.

[78] Para. Id.

[79] Campaign Against Arms Trade, Death on Delivery: The Impact of the Arms Trade on the Third World 10 (1989).

[80]  Id.

[81]  Id. at 12.

[82] Graduate Institute of International Studies, Small Arms Survey 2001: Prolifering the Problem (2001)

[83] Id.

[84] Id.

[85] Id.

[86] Small Arms Survey 2001, see note 76 supra, at 177.

[87] Id. at 145.

[88] Id.

[89] Id. at 144.

[90] Id.

[91] Id.

[92] Id.

[93] 166.  

[94] Id. at 165.

[95] Id. at 166. 

[96] Id. at 123; see also Report of the Panel of Experts Appointed Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1306 (2000), Paragraph 19, in Relation to Sierra Leone, U.N. SCOR, 55th Sess., P 167, U.N. Doc. s/2000/1195 (2000)

[97] Id.

[98]  Id.

[99]  Id.

[100] Para. Id. at 203-205

[101] Para. Id. at 206-207.

[102] Para. Id. at 208-209, 212.

[103] Para. Id.  213-214.

[104] Jonathon M. Winer, Combating Global Conflict by Promoting Financial Transparency: The Utility of Global White List,  Paper presented at the International Peace Academy, Program on Economic Agendas in Civil Wars, Rockefeller Foundation Study and Conference Center, Bellagio, Italy, May 20-24, 2002. at 2.  (for example, money laundering is an essential element of the illicit diamond trade)

[105] Id. at 9.

[106] Id. at 3.

[107] A World Drowning in Guns, 71 Fordham L. Review. 2333, 2334. 

[108] Id.