Illegal Trade of Arms - What It Is, How It Works and Why It Matters - Seeker's Thoughts

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Illegal Trade of Arms - What It Is, How It Works and Why It Matters

The history of ‘Illegal Arms Trade’ is an old as the History of war. The illegal arms trade mainly revolves around the small, arms weapons and munitions. As per estimates, over 2 million people are involved in the illegal arms trade. 

Small arms and light weapons (SALW) fuel conflict, enrich criminal groups, and hinder development in some of the world's most fragile States. Their devastating cross-cutting consequences include death, destruction, displacement and human suffering.

Illicit SALW trade takes place across its supply chain, from artisan production to falsified documentation. Leakages from the regulated market make this trade possible.

The illegal arms trade is an indispensable driver of conflict, war and violence. This illicit business entails an intricate web of producers, dealers, brokers, transporters and resellers selling weapons directly to end users - not to mention international brokers selling weapons over land borders as well as oceanic currents. Regulating such an expansive global network proves challenging at best - it exists across borders, regions and even oceans!

Arms traffickers supply weapons to various violent actors, such as armed groups, warlords, rebels and insurgents as well as organized crime syndicates and terrorist organizations. Large shipments can often be moved between destinations to meet specific group's requirements or reach embargoed and banned areas.

Illicit arms flows are propelled by multiple factors, including pervasive corruption, lax national export control regimes and globalization's increased cross-border connectivity. Other avenues for illicit arms flow may include exploiting weak or nonexistent international arms control treaties as well as loopholes in sanctions or embargoes.

Many states remain reluctant to address the arms trade problem, believing it stems mainly from criminal activity and that legal arms trade is relatively unaffected. Unfortunately, these arguments ignore that many legal arms sales made to human rights abusers or conflict zones are actively encouraged by selling countries, often violating export regulations in doing so and leading to wars, human rights violations and armed conflict.

There is evidence to show that legal arms trade exacerbates violence and conflict by fuelling corruption, incentivizing warlords to engage in violent acts, and aiding terrorists and criminal gangs acquire weapons (Overton, 2015). Furthermore, widespread gun ownership within democratic societies opens avenues for illicit arms trade - although individual perspectives on whether gun use for self-defence differ widely and some laws provide more freedom (Overton 2015).

Since small arms proliferation threatens peace and stability in both developed and developing nations, an international cooperative approach to arms control must be applied.

The Dark Side of the Global Arms Market

The global arms market is an underappreciated aspect of global economy. Estimates place its annual value at US$70 billion and its growth can be linked to illicit drug trafficking and human smuggling networks. Similar to illegal drugs, arms can be traded for money or access to natural resources and used to finance war and armed conflict.

Government authorities typically report the trade of other commodities; however, firearms remain a difficult product to track due to being durable and easily reused - making its tracking even harder for both national and international organizations.

Arms have long been used as tools of political power and policy. The United States stands as the foremost weapons exporter worldwide and regularly sells guns to other states to advance its own global interests and agendas, which contributes to an increase in armed conflicts and instability.

Gunrunning or arms trafficking refers to the sale and divergence of weapons for insurgency or terrorist groups - something done through corrupt practices, loopholes in national and international laws or unjust practices; these illegal transfers fuel criminal activities, destabilize societies and cause unquantifiable human suffering.

Tracking illegal weapons supplies is possible using the UN Register of Conventional Arms, an initiative that compiles and publishes annual arms export and import data by each country. This data serves as a powerful weapon against irresponsible arms sales as well as stopping their distribution into conflict zones and criminal and paramilitary groups.

However, despite its potential to stop illegal arms flow, the Register remains only partially operational. It remains vulnerable to violations from both non-State actors and State actors alike as well as an absence of political will to enforce it fully. Amnesty International is working towards strengthening it further through campaigns targeting States and arms companies who sell weapons illegally; researchers work alongside a global network of activists with expertise on weapons-related issues to apply pressure until governments and companies comply with law; digital verification experts help trace any leftover weapons back to their origin while weapon experts help identify weapons left by State actors or others so it can be returned back home safely; digital verification experts help identify weapons left by foreign actors or government actors as well.

The Hidden Costs of Illegal Arms Trade

Arms trafficking comes with many hidden costs, such as increased instability and regional conflict, political repression and human rights abuses. Irresponsible weapons transfers also undermine international sanctions and embargoes and deprive regions of peace, security and development opportunities. Arms trafficking is an extremely lucrative business for illegal dealers and brokers who make substantial profits from their activities; weapons can often be found for sale on black markets at vast sums of money or traded for valuable natural resources like gold and diamonds.

Illicit arms trade is an intricate issue involving many actors, from government and insurgent forces, criminal groups, illicit manufacturers, brokers and transporters - among them government forces, criminal groups, illicit manufacturers, brokers and transporters - as well as illicit trafficking activities by brokers and transporters. Recirculating military-grade small arms and light weapons contrary to international law and embargoes is at the core of this problem; illicit trafficking could occur through direct sales to insurgents or criminal organizations directly, diversion of legal arms shipments in order to meet demand on black market arms sales or manufacturing weapons in illicit facilities - this issue involves various actors with legal, legal shipments diverted towards illicit arms trade - as well as transfer of confiscated arms from legal trade into illicit markets.

Illicit arms traffickers need several key components in place for them to succeed:

First and foremost, traffickers require a central office from which their operations can be coordinated and managed effectively. Such an establishment should include air transportation capabilities as well as warehouse space for stockpiling product awaiting delivery to customers. Furthermore, they need the ability to pay customs duties and taxes as well as secure financing from banks or private investors in the local community.

Locating sources of arms and ammunition to sell on the black market is the next step in this process, whether this be local manufacturers and dealers or established arms exporters such as United States, Russia, France Germany and China-based weapons exporters who specialize in selling weapons to insurgents and terrorists.

Arms trade is a global issue and difficult to stop in its entirety, yet governments should impose robust export controls and penalties against those who violate existing laws and norms. Under the new configuration of the UN, countries that produce arms should also be held accountable for violating them as should countries that import them.

Exploring the Illegal Trade of Arms: Causes, Consequences and Solutions

Responsible weapon trade fuels global war and instability, leading to gun violence that harms people both inside and outside conflict zones, killing hundreds every day, forcing survivors into poverty, and destroying hospitals, markets and transportation systems - forcing families out of their homes and communities. Depriving children access to education while mothers don't get health care - all this while wrecking havoc on our environment is something nobody should accept as normal.

The illicit arms trade is an intricate web. It comprises numerous actors ranging from producers to those responsible for selling and transporting weapons; often hidden by layers of brokerage companies or networks of contractors and subcontractors; it may even involve corrupt government officials as was demonstrated during Iran-Contra or Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s (Griffiths & Wilkinson 2007).

Many legal arms dealers serve as middlemen for illicit buyers. They may obtain their stock directly from manufacturers or acquire it through "straw purchasers", individuals with clean records who purchase firearms on behalf of criminals; alternatively they could also acquire it through family members or stolen firearms recovered in police raids.

Other arms dealers operate within large, well-organized criminal networks which act as gangs or armed groups. Their needs range from military hardware for army or police forces, munitions used in drug trade or terrorist attacks and equipment used for drug production or terrorist attacks. Arms dealers may operate from countries of origin or export but could also exist globally.

Profit is often the primary motivation in legal and illicit arms markets alike. This is especially true of small arms and light weapons which account for 90% of deaths during armed conflicts. Therefore, it is critical to examine how economic power influences arms sales processes as this will provide more of a comprehensive view into why states sell weapons to third parties.

This project utilizes data from 122 countries regarding legal arms exports to develop a model that tracks the global supply chain of small arms. This involves studying export and import relations, countries selling/buying arms directly from one another and payment modes used. Furthermore, real and perceived profits will also be taken into consideration in this analysis.

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