Reducing Illicit Arms Flows and the New Development Agenda (Research Note 50)

Luigi De Martino and David Atwood
Research Note

A significant reduction in the trafficking of illicit arms is one of the targets being proposed as part of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the new development framework to come into effect after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Of the SDGs, Goal 16 focuses on peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice, and accountable institutions. Such a goal represents a significant step towards recognizing how violence prevention and reduction are essential for development. The proposed inclusion of target 16.4 in the new development agenda also reflects the widespread recognition of the importance of  arms control in promoting sustainable development.

The development of clear targets and indicators, which is core to the SDG negotiations, will make it possible to determine how well states fulfill their commitments. The measurability of these targets will be a crucial and guiding factor.  One key challenge facing the measurement of progress towards target 16.4 is the very limited availability of information on the quantities, types, and value of illicit arms in global circulation; and greater investment is needed to fill this knowledge gap.

The Research Note Reducing Illicit Arms Flows and the New Development Agenda proposes several ways to tackle the issue of measuring illicit arms flows. The Research Note offers a range of indicators that could help counter the data challenge and be useful for monitoring results at the national level. Selected indicators are of  particular relevance for monitoring target 16.4 in the SDG framework.

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Keywords: SDGs illicit trade illicit trafficking