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Small Arms Light Weapons (SALW)

The past decade saw 85,148 terrorist attacks involving Small Arms and Light Weapons, responsible for 193,172 fatalities worldwide. What is even more worrying is that over the past decade there has been a strong upward trend in terrorist attacks involving SALW as well as in the number of fatalities resulting from such attacks. While the rise in terrorist violence in Syria and Iraq has contributed to this global increase, similar patterns have emerged on other regional scenes, including in West Africa the Horn of Africa, North Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. The UN Security Council has repeatedly recognised the need to prevent terrorists from acquiring SALW and acknowledges that terrorists can benefit from organised crime, in particular the trafficking of SALW.

Together with Project CRAAFT, ICCT has conducted this research project about Small Arms and Light Weapons. Project CRAAFT is an academic research and community-building initiative designed to build stronger, more coordinated counter-terrorist financing (CTF) capacity across the EU and in its neighbourhood. The project engages with authorities and private entities in order to promote cross-border connectivity and targeted research. For more information on Project Craaft click here.

About the Project

It is widely acknowledged that proliferation, illicit trafficking, and diversion of small arms and light weapons (SALW) across the world poses a significant threat to peace and security at a national, regional, and global level. The illicit flow of SALW has a destabilising effect on societal advancement, economic growth, sustainable development, and human rights. When illicit trafficking and diversion of SALW occurs within the context of an armed conflict – whether this is during a civil war or intercommunal, interstate, or internal conflict – in which terrorist organisations operate, this further fuels the conflict and poses significant challenges to security and conflict prevention. The flow of illicit SALW can increase the intensity and duration of conflicts and has deteriorated the security situation, for example in Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo but also South Sudan.

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