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Conference Proceeding

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Illegal arms transfers, Illegal arms transfers -- Russia (Federation), Illegal arms transfers -- Africa, Social networks, Firearms


Small arms and light weapons are the primary cause of death in the violent conflicts raging today, but the small arms trade is difficult to track, and the illicit trade in small arms is doubly so. Nevertheless, information is available and research institutes like the Small Arms Survey and the Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers are at the forefront of efforts to collect and distribute this information. This paper focuses on the illicit arms trade and draws on a database I am developing, the Illicit Arms Transfer Database, which systematizes information contained in journalistic reports on illicit small arms transfers. This and previous studies, which employ some basic tools of social network analysis (SNA), reveal high profile positions occupied by former Soviet bloc countries in the illicit arms trade network. I set up this analysis with discussion of the features of social networks that allow them to facilitate the transfer of illicit weaponry, and follow the presentation of my findings with some explanations for the prominence of Russia and other post-communist countries in this trade.


Paper prepared for presentation at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, 16-19 March 2011, Montreal

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