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Illicit Firearms as a Threat to Global Security



Organized crime manifests itself in many forms and activities, ranging from traditional types of criminal organizations, to trans-national criminal networks, with elastic structures and the ability to move quickly, transform and be controlled from multiple locations. The illicit trafficking and misuse of firearms is intrinsically linked to these criminal organizations and networks: as facilitators of violent crimes, as tools to perpetrate power, and as lucrative trafficking commodities, that fuels armed conflicts, crime and insecurity. Oftentimes, different forms of criminality are intertwined, such as human, firearms and drugs trafficking.


No region in the world is exempt from the dramatic consequences of firearms violence. While the death toll in the context of armed conflicts is well known, less evident but even more dramatic, is the fact that more lives are lost worldwide from non-conflict firearm events, than do during ongoing wars.  The problems associated with firearms violence covers the whole spectrum of human security: ranging from high levels of individual physical insecurity (domestic violence and street, gang and criminal violence) with  serious economic and social consequences for the society at large, to large scale armed conflicts in which these arms enable widespread violence and account for the majority of deaths.


The problems associated with criminality and firearms are of such a complex nature, that curtailing them requires tailored interventions involving corresponding criminal justice responses in terms prevention, investigation and prosecution of crimes.

UNODC Global Firearms Programme was created to assist states in building adequate criminal justice systems to effectively respond to the challenges posed by organized criminality specifically related to trafficking in firearms its parts and components.



Further Information:

(i) International Legal Framework

(ii) The Firearms Protocol

(iii) Global Firearms Programme

(iv)  News and Events

(v)  Publications

(vi) Contacts