Global Firearms Programme

A Global Problem: Illicit Trafficking and Misuse of Firearms as a Threat to Global Security

Organized crime manifests itself in many forms and activities, ranging from traditional types of criminal organizations, to transnational 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.

International Legal Framework

A variety of international and regional instruments form part of the international legal regime on firearms. While this plurality of instruments demonstrate the complex and multi-dimensional nature of the firearms problems, they also illustrate the ... more

The Firearms Protocol

The Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition (Firearms Protocol) is the only legally binding instrument on small arms at the global level. It was adopted by ... more

Project Details

The international community has repeatedly expressed its concern with the negative impact of the proliferation of illicit firearms in societies whether at peace or in times of war. The Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and the ... more

News and Events

Keep up-to-date with our latest news stories and events regarding recent meetings, trainings and workshops undertaken by the Global Firearms Programme ... more


In order to enhance the knowledge base available for Member States to develop effective international responses to firearms trafficking and related offences, and to facilitate their efforts to ratify and implement the Firearms Protocol, UNODC has produced a series of legal and technical tools and publications ... more

Contact us

We appreciate your interest in our Programme, please do not hesitate to contact us directly if you should have any questions or enquiries. For further information on the Programme, please contact ... more

The Global Firearms Programme is grateful for the support of the following recent donors: