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Conventional Arms Control in the Commonwealth Initiative

Working together to tackle illicit arms flows

‘Heads denounced the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons which has devastating consequences in member countries. […] They agreed to strengthen their cooperation in combating the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons, including taking further steps to fully participate in relevant international initiatives […]’ – Commonwealth Heads of Government, London, April 2018

‘The illicit trade in conventional weapons, such as small arms and light weapons, contributes to human rights abuses, violations of international humanitarian law, and breaches of national security by its connection and support to the illicit drugs trade and border encroachment; and leads to conflict and instability, and hinders social and economic development’. - Commonwealth Heads of Governments, Malta, October 2015.

To tackle the illicit trade in conventional weapons, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Small Arms Survey have partnered, with the support of the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), to launch the Conventional Arms Control in the Commonwealth Initiative.

This new initiative will provide unique tools to strengthen cooperation, coordination and information-sharing between Commonwealth member countries to support national and regional implementation of measures to tackle the illicit arms trade, in line with international obligations and standards.

The Conventional Arms Control in the Commonwealth Initiative will support Commonwealth countries by:

  • Providing a platform to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and expertise, building on the work of the Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform and its Legal Knowledge Portal;
  • Increasing understanding of challenges in addressing the illicit arms trade.
  • Taking stock of progress achieved in implementing international and regional arms control instruments.
  • Building consensus on priority areas for cooperation and assistance within the Commonwealth.
  • Providing assistance on legal reform and legislative drafting.
Get involved

The Commonwealth is keen to hear from national points of contact and subject matter experts about your country’s approaches to implementing international arms control instruments such as the Arms Trade Treaty and the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and also any regional agreements relevant to your country.

In particular, we seek input on national experiences and challenges to implementing arms transfer controls;

  • preventing diversion of weapons and ammunition to illicit use;
  • strengthening national law enforcement coordination; 
  •  reducing illicit civilian possession.

Comments on the impact of arms control initiatives on the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 would also be welcome. Many thanks for your assistance!

Implementing partners

The Small Arms Survey is a global centre of excellence whose mandate is to generate evidence-based, impartial, and policy-relevant knowledge on all aspects of small arms and armed violence  in all countries and regions of the world


The project is funded by the UK’s Counter Proliferation and Arms Control Centre (CPACC). CPACC consolidates expertise and policy-making on international counter proliferation and arms control issues.