Monitoring firearms trafficking and illicit financial flows in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals

 On 20 October 2016, at the 8th Session of the Conference of State Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols Thereto in Vienna, UNODC's Global Firearms Programme (GFP), in collaboration with the Governments of Germany and Switzerland, the European Union and the Small Arms Survey, organized a side event  to discuss the monitoring of firearms trafficking and illicit financial flows in the context of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 and in regard to target 16.4 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG).


UNSDG Target 16.4, invites States by 2030 "to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime". Therefore representatives of Germany, Switzerland and the European Union underlined the importance of data collection and exchange of information among  stakeholders in order to implement the 2030 Agenda.
The event took shape in the form of a panel discussion which addressed various topics linked to monitoring illicit trafficking. Mr. Kristopher Carlson, a Senior Researcher from the Small Arms Survey,  discussed the organization's  surveys and data collection on the legal and illicit trade of weapons and introduced its "Global Partnership on Small Arms" an online platform to engage stakeholders and exchange information, experience, and knowledge on the fight against illicit arms trafficking.
Ms. Simonetta Grassi, Head of the Global Firearms Programme, presented the main highlights and recommendations of the expert group meeting on data collection on illicit firearms trafficking organized in September 2016 with regard to the improvement of UNODC's data collection and analysis methodology. Drawing from the experience of the 2015 Firearms Study and taking into account Target 16.4 and the proposed indicator 16.4.2, the meeting created a platform to explore synergies on data collection efforts to monitor the UNSDGs.
Finally, Ms. Angela Me, Chief of the Research and Trend Analysis Branch of UNODC, explained the process of identifying targets within the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the direct link of target 16.4 in the fight against organized crime, emphasizing that it covers not only arms, but also illicit financial flows. She also stressed the difficulty in monitoring and measuring this type of indicators.   
UNODC is currently  revising its illicit firearms trafficking data collection questionnaire and is seeking to integrate elements that would assist States to monitor and comply with SDG target 16.4. These activities are part of UNODC's efforts on supporting data collection and analysis and promoting information sharing and cooperation on firearms trafficking and related crimes which will be funded by the EU.