Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers: From Opacity to Transparency

United Nations General Assembly 78th First Committee Side Event
20 October 2023
Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers: From Opacity to Transparency

The world is moving toward a more turbulent and unstable future where the international security landscape is increasingly complex, contentious and challenging. Heightened geopolitical tensions, the progressive modernization of weapons systems, and the lack of transparency, trust, and dialogue have brought humanity to a critical time. Against this backdrop, transparency in military matters can play a critical confidence-building measure, serving to reduce tensions and ambiguities between Member States.

The UN Register of Conventional Arms and the UN Register on Military Expenditures are key instruments for building confidence between Member States. Unfortunately, only a minority of States regularly report to these instruments, thereby limiting their effectiveness for building confidence- and trust. This side event will examine the drivers of the deteriorating trend in transparency, and consider ideas for promoting greater participation in global transparency instruments in military affairs. The side event will provide a platform to discuss how the New Agenda for Peace and the report and recommendations of the Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters (ABDM) can contribute to such efforts.

A summary of the discussions held during the Symposium on Transparency in Times of Conflict, will be presented during the event.



  • Dr. Ivor Fung, Chief of the Conventional Arms Branch, UNODA – “Opening remarks and summary of the Symposium ‘Transparency in times of Conflict’”
  • Ms. Rachel Stohl, Vice President of Research Programs and Director of the Conventional Defense Program, Stimson Center – “Presentation on the need for MILEX and arms transfer transparency”
  • Dr. Paul Holtom, Head of the Conventional Arms and Ammunition Programme, UNIDIR – “Presentation on options for increasing transparency in military expenditures and arms transfers”
  • Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters (ABDM) Member or ABDM Secretariat (TBC) – “Presentation on the ABDM discussions and recommendations related to transparency and confidence-building”

Followed by Q&A.


Friday 20 October, 13.15 – 14.45 EDT

In-person meeting only in Room E at UN HQ, New York


Representatives from permanent missions in New York and Geneva, national experts, representatives of United Nations entities, international and regional organizations and non-governmental organizations interested in this issue.