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Conference Proceeding

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Illegal arms transfers -- Asia, Firearms industry and trade -- Asia, Black Market -- Firearms -- Asia, Social networks -- Mathematical models, Weapons industry -- Asia


In recent years, researchers have increasingly turned their attention to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Small arms are difficult to track and are not the stuff of military parades, but they are immensely destructive. In addition to what is already circulating, a substantial percentage of what is newly produced enters the black market and is destined for conflict zones across the globe. I argue that the illicit trade in small arms shares some important properties with networked forms of organization studied by sociologists. I then employ quantitative methods developed for the study of social networks in an effort to show the basic structure of illegal small arms transfers worldwide. The analysis draws from my Illicit Arms Transfers Database (IATD) still in development, so the results make use of the most rudimentary information being collected. They are suggestive, however, and the analytical approach promises to shed considerable light on a corner of the international arms trade that is of great interest to the research and activist communities, and of great consequence to those in war-torn regions of the world.


Paper prepared for presentation at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, 26-29 March 2008, San Francisco

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