High-Level Virtual Launching Event of the 
Global Study on Firearms Trafficking 2020

Vienna, 15 July 2020 – Today, UNODC launched its Global Study on Firearms Trafficking 2020 which constitutes the final product of the most comprehensive data collection and analysis on firearms trafficking to date, giving a unique insight into the patterns of trafficking globally, regionally and nationally. Around 170 participants across the world joined a virtual panel discussion that presented the main findings, conclusions and policy implications of the study.  The panel was moderated by Mr. John Brandolino, Director of the Division for Treaty Affairs (DTA) of UNODC.

Opening the high-level segment of the launching event, Ms. Ghada Waly, Executive Director of UNODC emphasized that “by shedding light on challenges, and on the origin and trafficking routes of firearms, the study can support governments in strengthening law enforcement and criminal justice responses to detect and disrupt illicit flows, dismantle the criminal organizations and networks responsible, and bring the perpetrators to justice”. Mr. Olivier Onidi, Deputy Director General of the EU’s Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs expressed the pleasure of the EU in funding this important analytical product and announced that another webinar with a focus on the European Union dimension of UNODC’s work and the new EU Action Plan on Firearms Trafficking (2020-2025) would take place in September.

Speaking during the high-level segment on behalf of the Chair of the seventh session of the Working Group on Firearms, His Excellency Ambassador Luis Javier Campuzano Pina, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations in Vienna explained that enhanced understanding of the causes and consequences of illicit firearms trafficking was at the core of the efforts of the Working Group on Firearms since its establishment in 2010. He further assured Ms. Waly that this group, which convened its seventh session on 16 and 17 July, would benefit greatly from the findings, information and data contained in the study. The event was also attended by Mr. James McColm, Manager of the Security Programme of the World Customs Organisation (WCO), who commented on the close cooperation between the two organizations in the field of firearms and illicit trafficking in general, and in the development of the study.


The study was presented by Mr. Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director of the Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs of UNODC, Ms. Kristiina Kangaspunta, Chief of the UNODC Crime Research Section, and Mr. Antoine Vella, Research Officer from the Research and Trend Analysis Branch of UNODC. Subsequently, Ms. Simonetta Grassi, Head of the Global Firearms Programme of DTA, concluded with the findings and policy implications.

The Global Study on Firearms Trafficking 2020 aims to enhance the evidence basis on illicit firearms trafficking and related forms of crime, being a key resource for policymakers and law enforcement authorities to effectively reduce illicit arms flows and the damage caused by their misuse, in support of SDG target 16.4. To that end, the study addresses several important topics, such as trends and patterns in firearms seizures across the world; prevailing legal justifications for firearms seizures and their criminal contexts; the nature and main dynamics of firearms trafficking; the linkages between firearms trafficking and other crimes and social issues, such as drug trafficking, violent crime and terrorism; and it eventually zooms into each geographical region to examine the particular dimensions of firearms trafficking in there.

The study revealed that more than 550,000 arms were seized worldwide, among which pistols were the most common type. Other than arms related offences (e.g. illicit possession), the criminal conduct most commonly linked with firearms seizures were violent crimes (particularly in Latin America and Africa) and drug trafficking (especially in Europe). Indeed, the analysis confirmed the incidence of firearms in homicides, being by far the most significant method in homicides related to organized crime and gang violence, although less prominent in those between intimate partners and family members. On average, more than 50% of homicides globally are carried out with firearms. Despite the valuable information provided by the study, firearms trafficking still remains a largely invisible phenomenon, which frequently emerges only once the trafficked weapons have been used in another crime. The study thus highlights the importance to strengthen the efforts on tracing seized firearms and reporting data, to effectively disclose and counter illicit arms flows.

The Global Study on Firearms Trafficking 2020, which was drafted in the context of UNODC’s Initiative on Monitoring Illicit Arms Flows is based on data of more than 100 countries and territories, including the data provided by 80 countries through the Illicit Arms Flows Questionnaire (IAFQ). It constitutes an integral part of the efforts of UNODC to implement its mandate provided by the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) to collect and analyse, on a regular basis, quantitative and qualitative data on trafficking in firearms, taking into consideration SDG target 16.4, and to monitor the achievement of its target indicator 16.4.2.

The study was part of a project to promote data collection and analysis on firearms issues, funded by the European Union through its Directorate General on Migration and Home Affairs.

The Global Study on Firearms Trafficking 2020 is available here


Further information:

Global Study on Firearms 2015

Executive Summary of the Global Study on Firearms Trafficking 2020 (E, S(other languages will be available soon)

Recording of the launching event of the study

Flyer of the launching event

Power point presentations: GFP & RAB

Issue Paper on Supporting Evidence-based Action to Counter Illicit Firearms Trafficking and related Forms of Crime

Guiding Templates for Firearms-related Investigations (E, F and S)

Video on monitoring illicit arms flows (E, F and S)

UNODC’s Monitoring Illicit Arms Flows Initiative 

Illicit Arms Flows Questionnaire – Data File (ACEFR and S

Illicit Arms Flows Questionnaire – Meta data File (AC, EFR and S)