Illicit arms and ammunition link conflict to crime as well as crime to conflict. Illicit arms can both enable and fuel an armed conflict, while different conflict phases provide opportunities for the diversion of arms and a potentially lucrative income source for organized arms trafficking networks. To date, there has been limited research examining the linkages between all three of these security challenges.
In response to this knowledge gap, this issue brief – produced in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) – explores the multiple connections between illicit arms, organized crime and armed conflict in relation to (1) the source of illicit arms supply, (2) the process of illicit arms acquisition, and (3) shifts in the dynamics of armed conflict and organized crime. It also provides key considerations to help inform responses to address these interrelated challenges by integrating conventional arms control measures, conflict prevention strategies, and criminal justice responses.