Piecing it all together

Why the Arms Trade Treaty must regulate parts and components for weapons and military equipment

Publication date: 27 June 2012
Author: Martin Butcher, Oxfam GB Policy Advisor, Arms and Development, Deepayan Basu Ray, Oxfam GB Policy Advisor, Arms and Development

Modern weapons and military equipment cannot be made or maintained without parts and components that are sourced and traded around the world. Without regulating this trade alongside the trade in complete weapons, it will be impossible to reduce the impact of irresponsible arms transfers on human rights, security, and development.

Between 2008 and 2011, the global trade in parts and components was worth at least $9.7 billion. This vast stockpile of weapons parts ranged from high-end components for aircraft to parts for small arms and light weapons. Weapons are assembled from components sourced from all corners of the world – frequently from countries without any effective arms transfer controls.

Without global regulation of the trade in parts and components, it will be impossible to effectively regulate any part of the arms trade, as companies will be able to circumvent the rules by shipping weapons in pieces from multiple countries around the globe. The Arms Trade Treaty represents a unique opportunity to regulate the specialized parts and components used in the arms trade and, indeed, will be fatally flawed if it does not do so.

Key recommendations:

All governments should ensure that:

  • The Arms Trade Treaty includes in its scope all specialized parts and components designed and produced for the arms industry or able to be used in defense equipment;
  • Just like all completed weapons and systems, the transfer of parts and components is subject to comprehensive risk assessments undertaken by licensing authorities – particularly because transfers of obscure components may well have a critical role in reviving the full lethal capacity of a weapon or system;
  • Transfers of such parts and components are fully included in Arms Trade Treaty reporting requirements, with reports made public to enhance transparency and accountability.

Related links

Take action: Support a bullet-proof Arms Trade Treaty

Follow the negotiations: Arms Trade Treaty monitor

Tracking States' positions on key issues concerning the Arms Trade Treaty: armstreaty.org

Other Arms Trade Treaty reports

Armed Robbery: How the poorly regulated arms trade is paralyzing development

Stop a Bullet, Stop a War: Why ammunition must be included in the Arms Trade Treaty

The Devil is in the Detail: The importance of comprehensive and legally binding criteria for arms transfers