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Commonwealth Dialogue: Countering diversion of SALW and their ammunition (WP1632)


The effective control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and their ammunition is a goal that unites countries across the Commonwealth, due to the severity of the potential consequences of their misuse. The Commonwealth Heads of Government, at their meeting in April 2018, acknowledged the devastating consequences of the illicit trade in SALW and agreed to strengthen cooperation and exchange of information to counter this threat.

Most illicit SALW and their ammunition began as legal weapons but were subsequently diverted to the illicit market during either production, transfer or storage. Countering diversion is therefore a priority for all Commonwealth countries. At the Third United Nations Conference to review progress made in the implementation of the Programme of Action on SALW and the International Tracing Instrument, all Commonwealth countries renewed their commitment to prevent and combat diversion of SALW to illicit markets, terrorists and other unauthorised recipients.

The workshop is convened under the Conventional Arms Control in the Commonwealth Initiative, a partnership between the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Small Arms Survey, with the support of the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). This initiative aims to provide unique tools to strengthen cooperation, coordination and information sharing between Commonwealth member countries and to support national and regional implementation of measures to tackle the illicit arms trade, in line with international obligations and standards.

Aims and intended outcomes

This workshop aimed to bring together government representatives, regional organisations, civil society and industry representatives from across the Commonwealth to share experiences on measures to tackle the diversion of SALW and their ammunition. To support this aim this meeting:

  • Examined the nature and scale of diversion of SALW and ammunition in Commonwealth countries;
  • Shared experiences and good practices on regulatory and enforcement measures aimed at preventing diversion across the lifecycle of the weapons and ammunition;
  • Examined the impact of new developments in SALW technology and design on the prevention of diversion and mitigation of diversion risks;
  • Provided feedback on the tools designed as part of the Conventional Arms Control in the Commonwealth Initiative and agree areas for future cooperation.

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