Craft production of small arms and light weapons (SALW) is a global and long-standing phenomenon. While manufacturing techniques – both traditional and emerging – evolve at a fast pace, knowledge on craft production remains localized and fragmented. This is compounded by a lack of a universally agreed definition of craft production.

In June 2023, UNIDIR initiated research examining craft production of small arms and light weapons (SALW). The objective of this research is to increase knowledge and understanding of craft-produced SALW and raise awareness of the challenges for preventing and addressing their illicit proliferation, trafficking and misuse. This report aspires to be a first step towards a global and more comprehensive dialogue on the issue of craft-produced SALW. The findings presented in it draw primarily on UNIDIR’s “Global survey on addressing the global craft production of SALW”, which was distributed to all United Nations Member States throughout 2023 and in early 2024. A total of 80 countries from all regions of the world contributed to this study by completing the survey.

This report explores key types of craft-produced weapon and manufacturing techniques, and profiles the main actors involved in the production and use of these weapons. It also delves into the existing international, regional, and national frameworks that regulate illicit manufacturing and address, most often implicitly, the issue of craft production. Finally, it considers key challenges to efforts to address this global challenge and avenues to improve these efforts. This report intends to provide international and regional organizations and states, in particular their law enforcement agencies, with a representative, yet non-exhaustive, benchmark on the issue of craft production of SALW. The report encourages a new, global dialogue on this critical issue.

Citation: Matilde Vecchioni, “Unregulated Production: Examining Craft-Produced Weapons from a Global Perspective”, UNIDIR, Geneva, 2024.