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United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development
in Latin America and the Caribbean



2 3
Table of Contents

This is a working document and is subject to regular revisions, updates, corrections,

and changes. Interested readers and users should consult the UNLIREC Public Security
webpage ( to check for regular updates. List of Tables and Graphs II
Foreword III
Preface/Executive Summary IV
Acknowledgements V

Part I: Introduction 1
The Importance of Ammunition Controls 1
International and Regional Instruments and Guidelines 10
• International instruments 10
• Regional instruments 12
• Guidelines and other initiatives 14

Part II: Good Practices and Current Scenario in Latin America and 25
the Caribbean
Legislation 25
Restraint 26
Current scenario 27

Chapter 1. Diversion Prevention Through Marking and Tracing 27

• Marking 27
• Tracing 32
• Guidelines and standards 35
• Technological innovation and costs 36

Chapter 2. Physical Security and Destruction of Stockpiles 39

COPYRIGHT NOTICE • Stockpile management 39
• Disposal and destruction 48
This document is intellectual property protected by the UN. No part of this • Demilitarisation 53
document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any
form, or by any means, for any purpose, without prior permission in writing from Chapter 3. Forensic Ballistics 56
the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development • Automated ballistic identification systems 56
in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), acting as a representative body of • International guidelines, standards, and practices 59
the United Nations. This document is not for sale. • Regional and sub-regional practices 62

Part III: The Way Forward 75

United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in
Recommendations for Latin American and Caribbean Governments 76
Latin America and the Caribbean Recommendations for Regional and Sub-regional Bodies 79
Complejo Javier Pérez de Cuéllar Recommendations for the UN System and Donor Countries 80
Av. Pérez Araníbar 750 Recommendations for Civil Society 80
Magdalena del Mar
Lima 17 Annex 83
Perú Annex 1 IBIS Use Across the Americas 83
Annex 2 Ammunition Destruction Methods 86
Email: Annex 3 Legally Binding International Instruments on Conventional 89
Telephone: (+51) (1) 625 9130 Weapons (ATT - CIFTA - PAF) Status of Ratification in Latin America
©UNLIREC 2018 – All rights reserved and The Caribbean
Annex 4 Compendium of UNLIREC Stockpile Management and 91
Destruction Tools

List of Tables and Graphs Foreword
Figure 1 During the past two decades, controls over small arms and light weapons have been
Firearm homicide rate and % firearm related 2 strengthened by the adoption of a set of key international instruments, such as the UN
Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and
Figure 2 Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and the International Tracing Instrument, the Firearms
Exports of Ammunition Reported World Main Exporters 4 Protocol and, most recently, the Arms Trade Treaty. Furthermore, target 16.4 of the
Sustainable Development Goals specifically calls for significantly reducing illicit arms flows
Figure 3 by 2030, in a bid to build peaceful and inclusive societies.
Countries with Ammunition. Production Capabilities 6
Notwithstanding these positive developments, the progress has remained uneven. To
Figure 4 date, controls over the production and sale of weapons are much more stringent
Exports of Ammunition Reported by Latin American States 2012- 8 than those over ammunitions. One of the regions disproportionately affected by this
2017 (main exporters) is Latin America and the Caribbean, which suffers from alarmingly high levels of armed
violence and firearms-related homicides. One obvious root-cause for this is the constant
Figure 5 and still relatively uncontrolled supply and availability of ammunition in society.
Ammunition Safety Management Step 1 – Make Safe 17
The present study presents the reader with a unique compilation of regional best
Figure 6 practices in ammunition control. As such, it contributes towards the ever-expanding
Ammunition Safety Management Step 2- Field Manage 18 literature seeking to bridge the gap between weapons and ammunition controls and,
in effect, contributes towards reduced levels of armed violence at the regional level.
Figure 7 The implementation of standardized measures will further facilitate cooperation and
Markings. Headstamp and Box 28 coordination, paving the way for strengthened security frameworks in the Latin American
and Caribbean region.
Figure 8
Laser Marking 31 On a policy level, the study underscores the urgent need for a new and targeted
international instrument for more rigorous ammunition controls. It is also imperative
Figure 9 that the international community fully implements its obligations and commitments vis-
Marking: Packages and Boxes 31 à-vis ammunition under the Treaties and instruments already in force. This represents the
most effective means of curbing the adverse effects that ammunition proliferation exerts
Figure 10 not only on human security, but also on economic and social development around the
Apprehension by Caliber in Rio de Janeiro 2014-1017 34 world.

Figure 11 The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin
Dominican Republic. Crime Scenes 2017 34 America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) has been working towards achieving and maintaining
peace and security in the region for over three decades. Ammunition Control Practices in
Figure 12 Latin America and the Caribbean is its most recent contribution towards supporting States
PSSM Best Practice Cards - Small Arms Survey 43 in the region in their disarmament and arms control efforts. It is envisioned that this study
will encourage States and other relevant actors in the region to pave the way for enhanced
Figure 13 ammunition controls both regionally and internationally.
From the Legal to the Illicit Sphere 45
Marcus Bleinroth
Figure 14 Director of Division,
Small Arms Ammunition Burning Tank Method 52 Conventional Disarmament, Arms Control and CSBM, Preventive Arms Control
Federal Foreign Office, Germany

Preface/Executive Acknowledgements
Summary This study was made possible thanks to financial support from the government of the
Federal Republic of Germany. This material represents the first study by the United Nations
Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the
Firearms or ammunition: Which one is more consequential to systemic levels of armed Caribbean (UNLIREC) on ammunition controls. It was prepared under the supervision of
violence in Latin America and the Caribbean? One doesn’t work without the other and as UNLIREC´s Director, Ms Mélanie Régimbal and Political Affairs Officer, Ms Amanda Cowl.
such, ammunition plays an essential role in exacerbating conflicts and increasing levels of
armed violence in the region and across the globe. Yet the controls over the production Development and edition of the study was led by Manuel Martínez, UNLIREC’s Research &
and sale of ammunition are less stringent than those over firearms. Bullets tend to be less Development Coordinator, and written by Daniel Mack, Senior Researcher and Consultant.
well marked, registered, kept, monitored, and regulated than firearms, making diversion Contributions and support from the following UNLIREC team members were essential to
easier and tracing more difficult. conduct the study and complete the final document: Iida Tammi, Alfredo Malaret, Rodolfo
Gamboa, Ian Ruddock, Julián Bustamante, Quinnelle Kangalee, Sonia Fernández, Ángela
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the constant supply, availability, and proliferation of Hoyos, Ignacio Bollier, Walter Murcia, Melissa Yi, Karina Hinojosa, Jason Francis, Giuliana
ammunition to all potential actors of violence – either through use in criminal activity, Vila, Milagros Malpartida, Cecilia Morales, Carola Liao, Verónica Cuadros, and Jimmy Arroyo.
misuse by State forces, interpersonal violence between civilians, or incidents with private
security forces – are a sine qua non to producing the region’s macabre armed violence The final product was also subject to several in-person, online consultations, and site
records. Not only are firearms more frequently used in homicides in Latin America and visits conducted by the research and development team. UNLIREC wishes to express its
the Caribbean than elsewhere in the world, the same can be said of bullets. Semantics, gratitude to those who provided input on an individual basis, in addition to others who
perhaps, but these daily human tragedies are not only firearm-related homicides, but also, chose to remain anonymous. UNLIREC would like to thank the following individuals for their
essentially, ammunition-related homicides and must be treated as such if policies seek to thoughtful contributions: William Godnick, Adrian Wilkinson, Blaz Mihelic, Miguel Bernard,
diminish the body count. Ken Cross, Eduardo Macías, Eric Deschambault, Benjamin King, Andre Gsell, Mayda de León
and Mark Mastaglio, as well as the the Companhia Brasileira de Cartuchos (CBC) and its
The purpose of Ammunition Control Practices in Latin America and the Caribbean is to representatives Fernando Salm, Rodolfo Ladeira, Tomaz Calcerano, and Caroline Paroneti
underscore the importance of ammunition controls and to explore the various international for opening the doors of their premises in Ribeirao Pires and sharing valuable information
instruments, standards, guidelines, and practices by comparing them to current on manufacturing and laser marking processes.
ammunition control practices in the region. This study intends to analyze ammunition
control practices from a practical perspective by answering two basic questions: What is Manuel Martínez Miralles (Editor and Research and Development Coordinator)
being done to improve ammunition control practices in the region, and How is it being holds a degree in administration and management from the Universidad Complutense de
done? Madrid (Spain) and a master’s degree in public administration from the Monterey Institute
of International Studies (California, US). Since 2013, he has been working as a Programme
To answer these questions, the study is divided into three parts. The first part will introduce Officer with UNLIREC’s Public Security and Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Agreements
the importance of ammunition controls, international and regional instruments, and Programmes. As of 2018, he leads the Research and Development team.
other guidelines and initiatives. The second will navigate through the current ammunition
control practices in Latin America and the Caribbean and explore its three key aspects in Daniel Mack (Author and Researcher) is an independent consultant working on issues
depth: diversion prevention through marking and tracing; physical security and destruction of armed violence reduction and international arms control. He worked for nine years at
of stockpiles; and forensic ballistics. Finally, the third part will outline a way forward by the NGO Instituto Sou da Paz in São Paulo, Brazil, spearheading its arms control efforts
providing specific recommendations for Latin American and Caribbean governments, both at the national level and at global fora. Moreover, he was co-chair of the Control
regional and sub-regional bodies, the United Nations system, donor countries, and civil Arms Coalition that pushed for the UN Arms Trade Treaty and member of the International
society. Advisory Council of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), among other
leadership roles. Daniel is currently a member of the Editorial Team of the publication
ATT Monitor. Previously, he was a Research Associate at the Inter-American Dialogue
in Washington, DC. He holds a master’s degree in International Relations (MSFS) from
Georgetown University (USA). Daniel speaks fluent English, Portuguese, and Spanish, and is
currently based in Berlin, Germany.


The Importance of Ammunition Controls
“What is a gun without any bullets?”1 “Stop a bullet, stop a war.”2 “The
indispensable complement to any weapon”,3 “the fuel of conflict”,4 “the
oxygen of armed violence”. “People don’t die of gun wounds, they die of bullet
wounds.”5 “Ammunition transforms [Small Arms and Light Weapons] from
inoperative objects into lethal weapons that can be used to take away human
lives and devastate communities.”6 “Once they enter the body, they fragment
and explode, pulverizing bones, tearing blood vessels and liquefying organs.”7

Much has been rightfully written about the essential role ammunition plays in
“escalating, prolonging, and intensifying armed conflict and crime,”8 not the
least because “weapons often last for decades, but ammunition can only be used
once”.9 In some regions, a lack of ammunition supply “has brought about the near-
disappearance of certain types of weapon”, such as the case of the G3 assault rifle in
East Africa.10 Once diverted from the legal market, “it is arguably more important to
understand trafficking in small arms ammunition than it is trafficking in small arms
and light weapons, because maintaining a regular supply of ammunition is crucial to
sustaining conflict and armed criminal activity.”11

In Latin America and the Caribbean, constant supply, availability and proliferation of
ammunition to all potential actors of violence – either through use in criminal activity,
misuse by State forces, interpersonal violence between civilians, or incidents with
private security forces – are a sine qua non to producing the region’s macabre armed
violence records. If indeed “firearms are more frequently used in homicides in Latin
America and the Caribbean than elsewhere in the world,”12 the same can be said of
bullets. Semantics, perhaps, but these daily human tragedies are not only “firearm-
related homicides” but also, essentially, “ammunition-related homicides” and must be
treated as such if seeking policies to diminish the body count.

Indeed, ammunition “arguably constitutes the most lethal part of any weapon
system”.13 In isolation, ammunition is certainly more dangerous than the firearms
it renders lethal, given the risks of explosive accidents, the so-called unplanned
explosions at munitions sites (UEMS), even if these are most likely in depots with
ammunition for light weapons or military-grade explosives, than when storing small
arms ammunition – the focus of this report – alone.

VI 1
Figure 1 In the last 15 years, at least 22 UEMS incidents have been reported in the following

Firearm homicide rate and

countries in Latin America and the Caribbean: Ecuador (5 incidents), Brazil (3),
Colombia (3), Mexico (2), Peru (2), Venezuela (2), Cuba (1), Guatemala (1), El Salvador

% firearm related (1), Nicaragua (1) and Paraguay (1). In total, these have resulted in at least 34 deaths
and over 750 injuries – though almost a third of the deaths and the vast majority
of the injuries occurred in a single accident, in Riobamba, Ecuador in November
75 35 2002. Of the incidents with determined causes, almost 70% reportedly occurred,
because of “inappropriate storage systems and infrastructure” and “handling errors
70 and inappropriate working practices”.14

65 30 Which is more consequential to systemic levels of armed violence in Latin America

and the Caribbean: firearms or ammunition? That discussion may devolve into
60 philosophical or semantic jostling, but regardless “guns and bullets have a symbiotic
relationship—neither can fulfil their lethal mission without the other. Like the syringes

Firearm homicide rate per 100,000 population

Percentage of firearm-related homicides

and substances used for lethal injections, they are physically distinct components
of a unitary and interdependent system developed to inflict damage to humans.”15
50 Yet, more often than not, controls on the production and sale of ammunition are
less stringent than those of firearms. Bullets tend to be less well marked, registered,
45 kept, monitored and regulated than firearms, making diversion and misuse easier to
20 conduct and more difficult to trace.
This is only partially explained by the massive volume of the ammunition business.
35 The scale of production, trade, and use of small arms ammunition worldwide is
15 almost unfathomable, with a yearly production of over 12 billion units16 – almost
30 two bullets per living human – and, for example, a single facility producing over 1.5
billion cartridges in a year for the US military, which still needed to import millions of
25 bullets to cover its use patterns.17 In Brazil, the company CBC (Companhia Brasileira
de Cartuchos) – which deems itself “one of the three largest ammunition producers
20 in the world” – produces ammunition virtually non-stop, in three daily eight-hour
Usage levels are, accordingly, astonishing. Often a military secret, some estimates of
10 5 the so-called Daily Ammunition Expenditure Rate (DAER) by armed forces suggest
that 600 soldiers with assault rifles could use over 2 million rounds in warfare
5 over a month.19 Levels of consumption in military training, by police forces and by
civilians worldwide additionally help to explain the volume of production. While most
0 0 ammunition is consumed domestically – particularly in countries where government-
owned or -affiliated factories provide most of the ammunition for its armed forces
Northern Europe
Eastern Asia
Western Europe
Eastern Europe
Southern Europe
South Eastern Europe
Northern Africa
Western Asia
Central Asia
Eastern Africa
Southern Asia
North America
Western Africa
Middle Africa
Southern Africa
South America
Central America

and police20 – the international trade in ammunition is a significant business.

Between 2004 and 2009, the average annual international trade in small arms
ammunition was at least USD1.8 billion.21 In 2014, “ammunition accounted for 38
percent of global transfers” in the USD 6 billion international small arms trade – or
almost USD 2.3 billion.22 According to data from UN COMTRADE, in 2016 exports
of ammunition worldwide reached almost USD6.9 billion. Market projections for the
next decade forecast continued growth.23
Percentage of firearm-related homicide Firearm homicide rate

2 3
Figure 2 In Latin America and the Caribbean, at least eight countries currently produce small

Exports of Ammunition Reported

arms cartridge-based ammunition25 though most industries in the region provide
ammunition solely to their domestic armed and security forces, and thus usually

World Main Exporters 24 only produce one to four different calibres. Examples of such government-owned
and military-geared enterprises are Compañía Anonima Venezolana de Industrias
Militares-CAVIM (Venezuela) ( Fábrica de Armas y Municiones del
USA South Korea Brazil Norway Italy Ejército-FAME (Peru) ( Fábricas y Maestranzas del Ejército-FAMAE
(Chile) ( and, INDUMIL (Colombia)
Fabricaciones Militares (Argentina)26, and Industrias Militares de Guatemala (which
2012 $2,952,335,503
USA $243,399,680
South Korea $136,257,409
Brazil $203,269,271
Norway $160,631,494
Italy may currently be dormant).27 In other Caribbean and Central American nations, the
2013 $3,485,872,441 $255,530,068 $174,310,176 $228,579,283 $239,591,414 manufacturing of firearms and ammunition is either prohibited, or is “permitted only if
2014 $3,326,548,407 $319,450,723 $182,611,748 $210,333,628 $193,739,518 the maker holds a valid licence, but is not conducted in practice”.28
2015 $3,893,757,155 $291,136,145 $242.108,999 $199,851,310 $165,317,367
In terms of large (private sector) actors in international markets, Latin America has only
2016 $4,316.351.882 $380,807,021 $218.345,929 $144,200,388 $148,679,128 two: Águila (Mexico) (, which is mostly geared towards
2017 $4,225,579,610 - $320.886,072 $207,558,608 $163,385,425 the US civilian market, but also has a respectable market share in Latin America and
the Caribbean, and the region’s behemoth, Companhia Brasileira de Cartuchos-
South Korea CBC (Brazil) ( a true global player, both in the military and civilian
ammunition markets. As such, the Latin American and Caribbean region has both
$1,490,323,637 sides of the usual dichotomy between “modern manufacturers competing in markets
USA for high-quality ammunition for sale to state actors in NATO member states” and “at
the other end of the spectrum small-scale, state-owned production facilities that are
$22,200,444,998 exclusively operated to meet, at least partially, the domestic demand of state actors”
and “are not necessarily profit-oriented or profitable enterprises [that] may rely on
outdated machinery and remain idle between order for ammunition from domestic

Brazil Norway

$1,274,520,333 $1,193,792,488
TOTAL WORLD 2012-2017
Source: UN COMTRADE As reported May 2017

4 5
Figure 3 In all countries, levels of production and internal consumption are mostly unknown

Countries with Ammunition

due to national security concerns. One Geneva-based expert interviewed noted that
“many countries consider their ammunition reserves to be more sensitive than their

Production Capabilities 30 weapons, as ammo is more linked to their capabilities. Many states are willing to share
information about their weapons stockpile, but not their ammunition”.

Levels of export are likewise difficult to pinpoint, given the sector’s lack of transparency
Mexico and reporting obligations. For example, the most comprehensive database on
international transfers of small arms (and its ammunition), NISAT-PRIO, has no data
Venezuela for small arms ammunition exports from Mexico between 2010 and 2015, and
exports from Brazil in the period only show up, because of national import reports
Guatemala Brazil
from Belgium, of a few million Euros between 2010-2012.31

Yet, it is known that Mexican ammunition is widely available in the US and Latin
American markets and Brazil’s current production levels of ammunition, coupled
Colombia with an 85% share towards exports, suggest that hundreds of millions of rounds of
ammunition are exported per year. In fact, searching the UN database COMTRADE32
Ecuador through export and import influx to countries around the world, a fuller picture
emerges. For example, Brazil reported USD320 million in exports in 2017 alone.
Peru Likewise, in 2016, Argentina exported ammunition worth over USD2 million, Mexico
almost USD36 million, and Peru over USD8.2 million.



Argentina Paraguay

6 7
Figure 4 As per imports, UNCOMTRADE shows that between 2014 and 2016 almost all

Exports of Ammunition Reported

countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (27 nations) imported some ammunition,
though many did so at small levels. Nonetheless, the following countries imported

by Latin American States 2012-2017 (and reported) at least USD1 million in ammunition during the period: Argentina (MUSD
9.5), Brazil (MUSD21.3), Chile (MUSD10), Colombia (MUSD8.4), Costa Rica (MUSD2.8),
(main exporters) 33 the Dominican Republic (MUSD1.36), Ecuador (MUSD1.1), El Salvador (MUSD 2),
Guatemala (MUSD 7.4), Mexico (MUSD 39.4), Peru (MUSD 4.9), and Uruguay (MUSD
1.36). Here too, the discrepancies between reported imports and numbers arrived at
Brazil Mexico Peru Argentina Chile Colombia from export reports from all other countries is often considerable. For example, in
the same period, Venezuela did not report any imports, but export reports from third
countries show that Venezuela received at least USD 4 million in ammunition.
2012 $136,257,409 $15,299,590 $7,045,797 $4,018,807 $6,151,006 $480
Worldwide, the dizzying plethora of types of ammunition,34 it could be argued, does
2013 $174,310,176 $19,515,606 $9,901,656 $4,273,279 $130,996 $23,357 not make it easier to control, monitor, and preclude diversion and misuse. However,
2014 $182,611,748 $25,016,133 $7,199,705 $3,280,533 $79,281 $681,405 while enormous and widespread, the ammunition trade is significantly clustered,
2015 $242,108,999 $26,498,674 $6,125,825 $2,510,242 $38,968 $16,259 facilitating both the full implementation and universalization of existing controls and
standards, and the potential creation of new norms. For example, while over 100
2016 $218,345,929 $35,730,505 $8,211,826 $2,038,514 $19,148 $30,028 countries produce small arms ammunition, about 90% of exports in 2011 originated in
2017 $320,886,072 $23,928,461 - $3,290,711 $363,789 - only 15 countries.35

Mexico Moreover, the traditional lack of transparency surrounding the trade in ammunition,
considered very much a strategic good even compared to that for small arms
$145,988,969 (“because of its critical role in sustaining combat, armed forces have been particularly
concerned to keep information about stock secret”)36 also does not alone explain the
Colombia relative neglect.
$751,529 Lack of recognition of the problem has likewise not been the issue; almost twenty
years ago, a UN Group of Experts noted that “attempts to address small arms and light
weapons would be incomplete if they did not include due regard for ammunition and
explosives”.37 While at that point the experts already lamented the dearth of information
available – a liability that has not been entirely addressed – in the many years since, the
international community learned much, but did less than necessary. The thread has
been pulled to today by a 2008 Group of Experts (and resulting report)38 on “the issue
of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus”, and more recently by its “revival”
in the December 2015 Resolution 70/35, which “reiterates its decision to address the
issue of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus in a comprehensive manner.” 39

Notwithstanding, to date, ammunition has been missing in most global normative

Brazil developments, such as its exclusion from the United Nations Programme of Action
Peru on Small Arms and Light Weapons (UN PoA)40 and its treatment as a lesser category
$38,484,809 $1,274,520,333 under the scope of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). While the quid pro quo that kept
ammunition outside of the scope of the International Tracing Instrument (ITI) may
Chile have sparked the process that culminated in the important International Ammunition

$6,783,188 $19,412,086 Technical Guidelines (IATG) (see below),41 the promise in 2005 that ammunition would
“be addressed in a comprehensive manner as part of a separate process conducted
within the framework of the United Nations” has not yet been fulfilled.42 If anything,
“international efforts to control the damaging effects of trafficking, proliferation,
Source: UN COMTRADE As reported May 2017

8 9
and misuse of small arms and light weapons have generally sidestepped the issue of and security measures in order to prevent diversion (including confiscation, seizure
ammunition. Firearms have essentially been dissociated from their ammunition on the and disposal); to establish a system of authorizations or licensing to ensure legitimate
international agenda.”43 This neglect, in turn, has unfortunately “overshadowed the manufacturing, export, import, transit and transport; to ensure adequate record-
distinctive characteristics that justify addressing ammunition in its own right”.44 keeping and tracing methods; and to exchange information on illicit manufacturing
and trafficking dynamics.53
Ammunition controls have thus been “relatively immune to influence of research”45
as gains in knowledge and technology have not been translated into multilateral A majority of governments, international and civil society organizations. Argued for
political action. Considering the scope, breadth and impact of the ammunition trade, full inclusion of ammunition negotiating the ATT,54 though the debate proved quite
the level of diplomatic, political and operational attention to ammunition controls contentious.55 That instrument’s Article 3 determines that State Parties “shall establish
internationally has been underwhelming, but intentional. In other words, the theme and maintain a national control system to regulate the export of ammunition/munitions
was deemed “too sensitive” or “too complex” to tackle, but this remains a political fired, launched or delivered by the conventional arms covered under Article 2 (1), and
decision. Ultimately, the culprit is lack of international political will; “politics have shall apply the provisions of Article 6 and Article 7 prior to authorizing the export of
trumped sensible policy.”46 such ammunition/munitions”.

However, the Latin American and Caribbean nations have been among the least Therefore, 23 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean56 are already legally-
responsible for these omissions in the global arena, perennially being at the forefront obligated to conduct risk assessment processes for any export of ammunition, and
of UN discussions calling for greater attention to ammunition controls. For example, “apply the provisions relating to prohibited transfers and denial of authorization of
during United Nations General Assembly First Committee in 2012, Peru’s Ambassador proposed exports in the same way that it would with respect to other conventional
forcefully posited that it was “undelayable” that the international community tackles arms within the scope of the ATT”.57 This means those countries are prohibited from
the problems posed by ammunition in an “individual manner”.47 Conversely, as Part transfers of ammunition that would violate a UNSC arms embargo, other binding
II discusses, domestically there is still much to be done in the region, particularly UN agreements, or that would be used for genocide, crimes against humanity, or
considering the overwhelming human toll of “ammunition-related” homicides and war crimes. Moreover, said governments must deny transfers that “would contribute
injuries in Latin America and Caribbean. to or undermine peace and security”; or could be used to commit or facilitate a
serious violation of international humanitarian law; a serious violation of international
human rights law; an act constituting an offence under international conventions

International and Regional Instruments or protocols relating to terrorism or transnational organized crime.58 Nonetheless,
some deem coverage of ammunition in the ATT partial, as States are not explicitly
and Guidelines obligated to consider ammunition under the articles covering Import, Transit/Trans-
shipment, Brokering, Diversion, Record Keeping, and Reporting, all of which refer only
to “conventional arms covered under Article 2(1)” – particularly unfortunate in terms
INTERNATIONAL INSTRUMENTS of transparency. However, initial ATT implementation indicates that states in Latin
Despite these loopholes, governments are nonetheless bound by a series or
international obligations and commitments.48 There are also several standards and
guidelines on ammunition controls that should be followed even if they are not
obligatory. As mentioned, though the politically-binding, and universal, UN PoA49 and
its complement, the International Tracing Instrument (ITI)50 excluded ammunition
from operational provisions, many governments and civil society groups continue to
advocate for its inclusion,51 while some governments have noted that, in their national
interpretation and implementation, the instrument in practice includes ammunition.

Regardless, a majority of countries in the region are legally-bound by the Protocol

against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and
Components and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention
against Transnational Organized Crime (Firearms Protocol), “the only legally binding
instrument on small arms at the global level”, which requires State parties to criminalize
the illicit manufacturing and trafficking of ammunition.52 In Latin America and the
Caribbean, a total of 28 countries are therein also obligated to adopt effective control

10 11
America and the Caribbean have been willing to deem ammunition as included under
all these categories, excluding Reporting.

In addition to the obligations derived from the ATT, and although not germane to
most countries in the region. The Wassenaar Arrangement On Export Controls for
Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies (Wassenaar Arrangement)
binds member states Argentina and Mexico to “promote transparency and greater
In over 60 countries during the last decade, poorly-stored
responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies,
thus preventing destabilizing accumulations”.59 Moreover, Chile is undergoing the
ammunition stockpiles have inadvertently exploded. In the
membership process, while Colombia is currently in an exploratory phase. The ten-year period from 2000 to 2009, there were at least 189
Wassenaar countries follow a detailed munitions list,60 and have committed to explosions in ammunition depots resulting in 3,486 fatalities and
implement nationally the guidelines on, inter alia, effective export control enforcement, 4,427 significant injuries. This averages out to an annual rate of
national reporting requirements, re-export controls, brokering, transit/transshipment, 19 explosions, 349 fatalities and 443 injuries. This fatality rate is
disposal of surplus or demilitarized military equipment, and end-user controls.61 21% of the fatality rate suffered from landmines and unexploded
The entire set of guidelines could be helpful to other Latin American and Caribbean ordnance annually.Thousands of people have died, and the
nations; indeed, some countries in the region, including Costa Rica and the Dominican livelihoods of entire communities were disrupted. Unsecured
Republic, are already considering the Wassenaar munitions list as a basis for their or poorly-monitored national ammunition stockpiles also lead
national control lists in order to comply with ATT implementation. to massive diversion into illicit markets. Diverted conventional
ammunition is increasingly used to make improvised explosive
Among regional commitments, the Organization of American States’ Inter-American
Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, The General Assembly requested the United Nations to develop
Explosives and Other Related Materials (CIFTA), was adopted in 1997 as the first legally- guidelines for adequate ammunition management. In response,
binding international norm explicitly covering ammunition (and explosives), and was a the UN SaferGuard Programme was established. It oversees the
major inspiration for both the Firearms Protocol and the UN PoA.62
dissemination of International Ammunition Technical Guidelines
The 31 member states to CIFTA in Latin America and the Caribbean,63 as regards
(IATG): detailed standards for voluntary use by countries that
ammunition controls, are obligated to harmonise their national legislations; to
wish to improve the safety and security of their ammunition
criminalize illicit manufacturing and trafficking; to take security measures (“undertake storage sites.
to adopt the necessary measures to ensure the security of firearms, ammunition,
explosives, and other related materials imported into, exported from, or in transit The International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG) are
through their respective territories”); to strengthen national controls (“establish or designed to establish standardised management processes
maintain an effective system of export, import, and international transit licenses or and security procedures for conventional ammunition storage
authorizations”); to exchange information, experience, and training; and engage in and processing facilities. Inadequately managed ammunition
cooperation, technical, law enforcement, and legal assistance.64 stockpiles threaten public safety and pose a risk to the security
of States. While it is the prerogative of each State to determine
Particularly helpfully, CIFTA was complemented by a series of Model Legislation the system of stockpile management that is most suited for its
recommendations, developed by the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission national defence and security purposes, the issue has been of
(CICAD), which inasmuch as ammunition is concerned, includes detailed prescriptions growing concern to the international community because of:
for the “control of international movement” (its detailed Chapter II is devoted to 1. the impact on social and economic development within
ammunition specifically), “strengthening controls at export points”, establishing developing nations due to undesirable explosions of
criminal offenses, and confiscation.65 Unfortunately, the political process surrounding ammunition depots; and
CIFTA has remained relatively dormant in recent years.
2. the cross-border consequences due to the diversion of poorly
On a sub-regional level, the Americas have several other normative efforts germane
managed stockpiles.
to the control of ammunition, though almost all have, like CIFTA, lost steam in Source:
recent years. These include efforts under the Central American Integration System,
(such as the Tratado Marco de Seguridad Democratica en Centroamérica66 and the

12 13
unfortunately discontinued CASAC-Programa Centroamericano para el Control de These voluntary “technical guidelines for the stockpile management of conventional
Armas Pequeñas y Ligeras67), the Andean Community’s Decision 552: The Andean Plan ammunition” are both highly detailed and relevant to national authorities seeking
to Prevent, Fight and Eradicate Illicit Trafficking in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all state-of-the-art practices to implement.74 Importantly, the IATGs have “three
Its Aspects,68 Mercosur’s Presidential Declaration on Combating the Illicit Manufacture levels of ascending comprehensiveness”, thereby offering immediate solutions
and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials, and potential future to governments regardless of how effective their baseline may be, with Level 1
attention by UNASUR.69 constituting “a basic minimum to reduce risk” and Level 3 an optimum scenario.75
The IATGs are accompanied by a web-based implementation support tool known
Exceptions in terms of recent activity and continued relevance come from the operational as UN Safeguard, which boasts of an extensive array of training courses and an
front, such as Mercosur’s ongoing Working Group on Firearms and Ammunition accompanying roster of experts qualified to administer them.76 The web-based
(GTAFM) – which has been meeting since 2001 to discuss the harmonization of implementation support toolkit includes several risk management resources (such as
operational aspects of arms and ammunition control, most recently in December 2017 an assessment risk reduction checklist77 and the Explosive Consequence Analysis78)
in Brasília70 –, and efforts by CARICOM, which has put forth important political and and technical calculators.79
operational endeavours. Though full implementation remains elusive.
The guidelines are further supported by UN-ASAP (Ammunition Safety Assistance
In the Declaration on Small Arms and Light Weapons (2011), the Caribbean governments Program), a “clearing-house to support States in assessing their needs to improve
“solemnly commit to implement all necessary actions at the national and regional level the safety and security of ammunition storage facilities, as well as to undertake the
to fully combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and their ammunition”, destruction of surplus ammunition”.80 Safeguard has also established a “quick-response
as well as to fully implement the PoA and the ATT, to strengthen national capacities, mechanism, which allows ammunition experts to be deployed rapidly to assist States,
policies, and legislation, to harmonize sub-regional laws, to enhance the security of upon request, in the urgent management of ammunition stockpiles, including in the
stockpiles (“including the identification and destruction of surplus”), and to “continue to aftermath of unintended explosions of ammunition”.81
accord the highest national and regional priority to matters related to combating and
eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and their ammunition”.71 The IATGs are reportedly currently “being used to support ammunition stockpile
These objectives have had follow-through in practical terms as well, with the creation management efforts” by 86 countries, though it is impossible to independently
of model legislation for UN PoA and ATT implementation, and trainings for national ascertain to what extent and how well the guidelines are being implemented in each.82
points of contact, on marking, border security, stockpile management, and end-user Technical and financial support to the endeavour has come from diverse quarters: the
control systems.72 governments of Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, the Czech Republic, Germany, Japan,
Serbia, Singapore, Switzerland, the USA and the EU. However, it should be noted in
Operationally, the Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS) the context of the Americas that while all IATG modules are available in English and
was created in 2006 and is headquartered in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Portuguese83 (presumably given Brazil’s involvement), and some can be read in French,
with a reported staff of 70 full-time employees ( none of them are available in Spanish, a liability which should urgently be addressed
Amongst its projects, the Regional Integrated Ballistic Information Network (RIBIN; see to render these highly technical documents more accessible to operators in many
more below), and Regional Intelligence Fusion Centre (RIFC) are noteworthy in their countries in Latin America.
intention of enabling national governments to gain, process, and analyze information
to trace firearms and ammunition used in criminal activities,73 even if their real-world While not intended to comport a global purview like the IATGs, the OSCE Handbook
realisation is still lagging. of Best Practices on Conventional Ammunition – “a compilation of the currently
available ‘best practice’ guides’ of techniques and procedures for the destruction
GUIDELINES AND OTHER INITIATIVES of conventional ammunition, explosive material and detonation devices and the
In addition to normative instruments – whether ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ law, global, regional, or management and control of stockpiles of ammunition” – also includes a plethora
sub-regional in scope – several international standards and guidelines on ammunition of practical information that can be used by governments in Latin America and the
controls are not only widely available, but essential to follow for governments Caribbean (and is available in Spanish).84 Divided into five guides – Marking, registration,
concerned with optimum levels of human security and compliance with best practices. and record keeping; Stockpile management; Physical security of stockpiles;
It should be noted, however, that some of the following instruments cover all forms of Transportation; and Destruction – the OSCE Handbook reflects the best available
ammunition (such as the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines) while others knowledge and experience from not only the group, but also the special expertise
are specific to small arms ammunition. of the governments that drafted them, respectively, Germany, the Netherlands, the
United States and Sweden.85 At least 14 OSCE members have also benefited from
Foremost among these are the IATG, which as aforementioned stemmed from the missions by the organization for practical assistance in stockpile management,
“punting” of the ammunition issue during the negotiations of the PoA and the ITI. security, and surplus destruction.86

14 15
However, as the Handbook was developed within a European context, it should be Figure 5

Ammunition Safety Management

pointed out that the “full implementation”87 of these international guidelines “has
significant cost implications”. Moreover, though experiences, practices and research
from different regions may offer important lessons learned, the discrepancies between
countries in the Americas and some European countries may make them unfeasible. Step 1 – Make Safe
As such, lessons learned from other developing regions may be especially helpful.
For example, island nations in the Caribbean may have more similarities with Pacific
nations,88 or others may see similarities with challenges on the African continent.89

Eastern Europe and the Balkans may be of particular interest, as these regions have
similar average socio-economic levels as parts of Latin America and the Caribbean
thus presumably having similar financial and technological constraints.90 Moreover,
this region has produced a large amount of excellent reference guides and analysis on
arms and ammunition control issues, especially through The South Eastern and Eastern
Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) and
the Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction (RASR). SEESAC, based in Belgrade and
supported by UNDP, has several publications on ammunition controls and it monitors
the current trends in the area.91

RASR, in turn, is a “regional approach to address the threats posed by excess, unstable,
loosely secured or otherwise at-risk stockpiles of conventional weapons and munitions
in South East Europe”, composed of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia,
Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia, “working to prevent
disastrous explosions and destabilizing diversions of stockpiled conventional weapons
and ammunition”.92 Resources from their last workshop (October 2017)93 include
detailed presentations on surplus ammunition management from Albania, Bosnia-
Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia, among other materials of potential interest to
governments in the Americas.94

Finally, existing civil society guidelines on ammunition controls may also provide
important lessons for governments in the regions. One example is the Geneva
International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) Ammunition Safety
Management app, which can be downloaded for free by ammunition safety and
PSSM practitioners, project managers, advisers, and experts.95 The user-friendly
operations guide and training aid can also provide local capacity building, “ensuring
that the ammunition stocks can be successfully managed in accordance with IATGs
when the international expertise has left”. Highly relevant to the Americas, the app “is
designed to make the maximum safety improvements in the shortest, simplest steps
at low cost and with limited resources”.96 Guidelines on specific sub-themes within
the broader area of ammunition controls, particularly as regards physical security and
stockpile management, are also available from civil society organizations and should
be consulted by the region’s governments.97 Importantly, many germane guidelines
follow the notion of “good” rather than necessarily “best practices” in recognition that
resource scarcity may impede some countries in achieving the highest known levels
of practice, but must not preclude achieving – with targeted assistance – better and
basic standards.
(GICHD. Available from

16 17
Figure 6 NOTES

Ammunition Safety Management 1. Multinational Small Arms and Ammunition Group, “The Issue of Conventional Ammunition”, 15
February 2012. Available from

Step 2- Field Manage ammunition.

2. Ben Murphy and Deepayan Basu Ray, “Stop a Bullet, Stop a War: Why ammunition must be included
in the Arms Trade Treaty”, Oxfam Briefing (May 2012). Available from
3. Stéphanie Pézard, “Sustaining the Conflict: Ammunition for Attack” in Targeting Ammunition: A Primer,
Stéphanie Pézard and Holger Anders, eds. (Geneva, Cambridge University Press, 2006), p.150. Available
4. Holger Anders, “Ammunition: the fuel of conflict”, Oxfam Briefing Note (15 June 2016). Available
5. Daniel Mack, “The Arms Trade Treaty PrepCom: Prepared and Committed?”, 8 July 2010. Available
6. Brian Wood and Lawrence Robinson, “The Programme of Action on Small Arms: Incomplete
without the Inclusion of Ammunition”, June 2017. Available from
7. Leana Wen, “What Bullets Do to Bodies”, The New York Times, 15 June 2017. Available from www.
8. Owen Greene, “Introduction: Ammunition for Small Arms and Light Weapons: Understanding the
Issues and Addressing the Challenges” in Targeting Ammunition: A Primer, Stéphanie Pézard and Holger
Anders, eds. (Geneva, Switzerland, Small Arms Survey, 2006), p.1. Available from www.smallarmssurvey.
9. Neil Corney and Nicholas Marsh, Aiming for Control: The Need to Include Ammunition in the Arms
Trade Treat, PRIO Paper (PRIO, 2013). Available from
10. Greene, “Introduction: Ammunition for Small Arms and Light Weapons”, p.3.
11. Mike Bourne and Ilhan Berko, “Deadly Diversions: Illicit Transfers of Ammunition for Small Arms and
Light Weapons” in Targeting Ammunition: A Primer, Stéphanie Pézard and Holger Anders, eds. (Geneva,
Cambridge University Press, 2006), p.99. Available from
12. Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, Global Burden of Armed Violence:
Every Body Counts (Geneva, Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 74–75. Available from www.
13. Greene, “Introduction: Ammunition for Small Arms and Light Weapons”, p.1.
14. Small Arms Survey, “Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites”, 13 September 2016. Available from
html. (11 of 16 incidents). Of the 25 countries with most UEMS incidents between 1979 and 2013, the only
countries from the region were Ecuador (7) and Brazil (5). (Eric G. Berman and Pilar Reina, eds., Unplanned
Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS): Excess Stockpiles as Liabilities rather than Assets (Geneva, Cambridge
University Press, 2014). Available from
UEMS/SAS-HB03-UEMS-Handbook-full.pdf ).
15. Daniel Mack, “The Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in ‘Heavy Sticks’”, 30 August 2012.
Available from
html. For additional information see also: Daniel Mack, “Guns don’t kill people, bullets do” in What Next?
Thoughts for Global Civil Society Working on Arms Control and Armed Violence Reduction, Instituto Sou
da Paz (2014), pp.60-64. Available from
16. Corney & Marsh, Aiming for Control.
17. Ammunition Stocks: Promoting Safe and Secure Storage and Disposal. Biting the Bullet Briefing
18 (Greene, Holt, and Wilkinson, 2005, p. 13) (Small Arms Survey, 2005, p. 20). Available from http://www.
Ammunition-04-Introduction.pdf More recently, the company in charge of the facility, Orbital ATK noted
that “during the last five years, the company manufactured more than 8 billion rounds of small-caliber
ammunition for the U.S. military and other customers”, so around 1.6 billion per year, or an average of 22
million round per day.
18. Author´s visit to CBC, Ribeirão Pires, São Paulo in December 2017.
19. SEESAC. 2006. Ammunition and Explosives Stockpile Management. RMDS/G 05.50. 4th Edition.
Belgrade: SEESAC, p. 4., in Corney and Marsh, Aiming for Control. Available from
(GICHD. Available from

18 19
KIT/Ammunition%20Management%20(SEESAC).pdf 42. OEWG report, UNGA, 2005, para. 27, “Report of the Open-ended Working Group to Negotiate an
20. Ibid. International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small
21. Another US$ 2.5 billion stems from light weapons ammunition, for a total of US$4.3 billion annually. Arms and Light Weapons. A/60/88 of 27 June, Availabe from
“Emerging from Obscurity: The global ammunition trade” in Small Arms Survey 2010: Gangs, groups and 43. Greene, “Introduction: Ammunition for Small Arms and Light Weapons”, p.1. Available from
guns (Geneva, Cambridge University Press, 2010). Available from
docs/A-Yearbook/2010/en/Small-Arms-Survey-2010-Chapter-01-EN.pdf Targeting-Ammunition-Book.pdf
22. Paul Holtom and Irene Pavesi, Trade Update 2017: Out of the Shadows (Geneva, Small Arms Survey, 44. Ibid., p.4.
2017). Available from 45. McDonald, “Measures: Informing Diplomacy”, p.151.
pdf 46. Mack, “Guns Don’t Kill People, Bullets Do”, p.108.
23. “Ammunition Market worth over $11.5bn by 2025: Global Market Insights Inc.”, Globe Newswire, 47. Speech by Ambassador Henrique Román-Morey at the First Committee 2012, Reaching Critical Will.
31 January 2017. Available from Available from:
Ammunition-Market-worth-over-11-5bn-by-2025-Global-Market-Insights-Inc.html; and “Ammunition statements/9Oct_Peru.pdf
Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015 – 2021” in PR Newswire, 48. For a detailed comparison among the main global instruments, see Comparative Analysis of Global
21 March 2016. Available from Instruments on Firearms and other Conventional Arms: Synergies for Implementation, United Nations
industry-analysis-size-share-growth-trends-and-forecast-2015---2021-300239274.html. Office on Drugs and Crime (Vienna, 2016). Available from
24. Note that figures from 2017 could be misrepresented due to delayed reporting (data retrieved in ComparativeAnalysisPaper.pdf
April 2018) 49. Report of the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All
25. James Bevan and Stéphanie Pézard, “Basic Characteristics of Ammunition: From Handguns Its Aspects, New York, 9-20 July 2001, A/CONF.192/15. Available from
to MANPADS” in Targeting Ammunition: A Primer, Stéphanie Pézard and Holger Anders, eds., (Geneva, pdf/192.15%20(E).pdf.
Cambridge University Press, 2006), p.23. Available from 50. See also Peter Batchelor and Glenn
Book-series/book-03-targeting-ammunition/SAS-Targeting-Ammunition-Book.pdf .This publication does McDonald, “Too close for comfort: an analysis of the UN tracing negotiations”, Disarmament Forum, vol.
not cover ammunition for light weapons, which may be guided or explosive in nature, and broadly speaking 4, 2005, p.40.
over 12.7mm (or .50) in caliber. Likewise, the present study does not cover ‘less lethal’ ammunition (‘rubber Available from
bullets’), often used by law enforcement for crowd control. UNIDIR%20analysis%20UN%20tracing%20negotiations.pdf
26. Over several production facilities such as Fray Luis Beltrán (Santa Fé), Villa María (Córdoba), and 51. Wood and Robinson, “The Programme of Action on Small Arms”.
Azul (Buenos Aires). For further details on ammunition production at Fray Luis Beltrán, see UNLIREC, 52. Available from
Propuesta Técnica para la Marcación de Municiones (Argentina), September 2013, p. 13. Full text available 53. Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica,
from UNLIREC upon request. Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica,
27. The factory only produces 5.56 mm ammunition for the armed forces ( Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad
industria/misionvision.html). and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela. Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-Fifth Session, A/
28. Alpers, Philip, Amélie Rossetti and Leonardo Goi. 2018. Guns in Costa Rica: Regulation of Firearm RES/55/255. Available from
Makers. Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney. Data from Costa Rica and other States 55-255/55r255e.pdf
Available from: and 54. Official Records of the General Assembly, Final United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade
central-america , Regulation of Firearms Makers. Accessed 4 May 2018 Treaty, A/CONF.217/2013/L.3. Available from
29. Holger Anders and Reinhilde Weidacher, “The Production of Ammunition for Small Arms and 55. See for example Corney and Marsh, Aiming for Control; Conor Fortune, Biting the Bullet – Why
Light Weapons” in Targeting Ammunition: A Primer, Stéphanie Pézard and Holger Anders, eds. (Geneva, the Arms Trade Treaty Must Regulate Ammunition. Available from
Cambridge University Press, 2006), p.48. Available from why-the-arms-trade-treaty-must-regulate-ammunition/; Ammunition in the Scope of the Arms Trade
Book-series/book-03-targeting-ammunition/SAS-Targeting-Ammunition-Book.pdf Treaty, presented by Claudio Gramizzi, Geneva, 2 December 2010. Available from
30. Uruguay has assembling capacities and Paraguay has not produced since 2016. Based on UNLIREC conferences/pdfs/ammunition-in-the-scope-of-an-att-en-1-411.pdf; Ammunition: the fuel of conflict,
consultations with States. Oxfam Briefing Note.
31. Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers, NISAT Database on Small Arms Transfers. Available 56. As of December 2017, the ATT has 93 State Parties, including Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina,
from Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala,
32. United Nations, UN Comtrade Database. Available from Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent
33. Note that figures from 2017 could be misrepresented due to delayed reporting (data retrieved in & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, and Uruguay. Among the total of 130 signatories, those that have
April 2018) not yet ratified include Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Haiti, and Suriname. List of State Parties is available from
34. Bonn International Center for Conversion, SALW Guide on Ammunition. Available from https:// December_2017.pdf and
35. From Latin America and the Caribbean, only Brazil figures on this list. Corney and Marsh, Aiming States_2_March_2017.pdf.
for Control, p.5. 57. The Arms Trade Treaty (2013), Geneva Academy, Academy Briefing No. 3, June 2013, p.21. Available
36. Greene, “Introduction: Ammunition for Small Arms and Light Weapons”, p.3. Available from from Briefings/ATT%20Briefing%203%20web.pdf
Targeting-Ammunition-Book.pdf 58. Article 7 of the Arms Trade Treaty available from
37. Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-Fourth Session, A/54/155, p.4. Available from http:// pdf. 59.
38. Official Records of the General Assembly, Sixty-Third Session, A/63/182. Available from www. 60. Available from WA_2017.pdf
39. Official Records of the General Assembly, Seventieth Session, A/RES/70/35. Available from www. 61. Available from 62. Available from
40. Wood and Robinson, “The Programme of Action on Small Arms”. 63. All OAS members other than Canada, the United States and Jamaica have ratified CIFTA. List of
41. Glenn McDonald, “Measures: Informing Diplomacy—the Role of Research in the UN Small Arms States available from The U.S. under President Obama briefly
Process” in Controlling Small Arms: Consolidation, innovation and relevance in research and policy, Peter considered ratification, to no avail; one of the reported obstacles was the argument that manual loading
Batchelor and Kai Kenkel, eds. (London, Routledge, 2013), p. 160. of ammunition would be criminalized. Mary Beth Sheridan, “Despite Obama pledge, Democrats show little

20 21
enthusiasm for CIFTA treaty on gun trafficking”, Washington Post, 21 October 2010. Available from www. 89. Conflict Armament Research, The Distribution of Iranian Ammunition in Africa: Evidence from a nine-country investigation (London, 2012), available from file:///C:/Users/tammi/Downloads/Iranian_
64. The Convention available from Ammunition_Distribution_in_Africa.pdf, and Small Arms Survey, Facilitating PSSM Assistance in the Sahel
manufacturing_trafficking_firearms_ammunition_explosives.asp and Beyond: Introducing the PSSM Priorities Matrix, SAS Issue Brief, No 18 (2016). Available from www.
65. Available from
66. Available from 90. For example, Argentina and Croatia, or Uruguay, Barbados and Bulgaria, or Costa Rica and Serbia,
67. Available from or Albania and Mexico, have basically the same position on the Human Development Index (almost all
americas/sica.html. countries from both regions are deemed High or Medium Human Development. Human Development
68. Available from Index available from A similar dynamic holds in terms of GDP
69. As per mention of trafficking in small arms in group’s ‘Tratado Constitutivo de la Unión de Naciones per capita (PPP) between countries in the two regions. Data available from
Suramericanas’ or efforts by the Consejo Suramericano en Materia de Seguridad Ciudadana, Justicia, Y indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.PP.CD.
Coordinación de Acciones Contra La Delincuencia Organizada Transnacional. Available from www.unasursg. 91. See, for example, Ammunition Technical Assessment of
org/images/descargas/DOCUMENTOS%20CONSTITUTIVOS%20DE%20UNASUR/Tratado-UNASUR- Montenegro, SEESAC (2007). Available from
solo.pdf and Ammunition-Technical-Assesment-of-Montenegro-EN.pdf; SALW Ammunition Detection Study, SEESAC
70. Meeting calendar and photographs available from Detection-Study-EN.pdf; SALW Ammunition Destruction – Environmental releases from open burning
innova.front/calendario-de-reuni%C3%B5es-entre-04-e-08-de-dezembro-de-2017 and (OB) and open detonation (OD) events, SEESAC,
com/photos/mrebrasil/albums/72157661290279677. Ammunition-Destruction-Environmental-Releases-from-Open-Burning-a.pdf; and
71. Available from News-SALW/Cutting-the-supply-chain-at-source-Bosnia-and-Herzegovina-destroys-200000-pieces-
meetings/caricom-declaration-on-small-arms-and-light-weapons-issued-by-the-thirty-se. of-ammunition/.
72. 92. Further information available from
Weapons.pdf and 93. Further information available from
americas/caricom.html. 94. Further information available from
73. Further information available from 95. Ammunition Safety Management Toolset is available from
Regional%20Integrated%20Ballistic%20Information%20Network%20RIBIN.pdf. detail/publication/ammunition-safety-management-asm-toolset/.
74. The entirety of all compiled IATG modules stretches to over 1,200 pages. International Ammunitiona 96. Ibid.
Technical Guideline: Guide to the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG), UN SaferGuard, 97. Samuel Paunila, “Good Practice in Physical Security and Stockpile Management”, 30 June 2015.
IATG 01.10C, 2nd ed. (2015). Available from : Available from;
uploads/2017/05/IATG-V2-Combined-V2C-as-at-15-May-17.pdf. and Owen Greene, Sally Holt and Adrian Wilkinson, Ammunition Stock: Promoting Safe and Secure Storage
75. Further information available from and Disposal, Biting the Bullet Briefing, No 18., February 2005. Available from
76. Available from sites/default/files/publications/BB_Briefing18.pdf.
77. Further information available from
78. Further information available from
79. Namely, Kingery-Bulmash blast parameter; Gurney equations for fragment velocity; Calculate an
Explosion Danger Area; Hopkinson-Cranz scaling law; Noise prediction; Detonation pressure; Explosion
danger area
(IMAS); and Vertical danger area. Implementation Support Toolkit available from
80.Further information available from
81. Official Records of the General Assembly, Seventy-Second Session, A/C.1/72/L.43.
Available from
82. In addition to States, several UN agencies, international and regional organizations, and non-
governmental groups are among the IATGs users.
83. For example, Diretrizes Tecnicas Internacionais de Munica, IATG 01.10. Available from https:// .
84. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE Handbook of Best Practices on
Conventional Ammunition (2008). Available from
85. Ibid. On transportation specifically, essential international guidelines are the UN Model Regulations
on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods: Model
Regulations, United Nations, vol. 1, 17th ed. (2011). Available from
87. Multinational Small Arms and Ammunition Group, “The Issue of Conventional Ammunition”.
88. See, for example, Arms and Ammunition in Oceania: A guide for Pacific Governments, Pacific Small
Arms Action Group. Available from
and-Ammunition-in-Oceania.pdf;;; and Implementing
the Arms Trade Treaty and the UNPoA: A Guide to Coordinating an Effective Arms Control System,
Centre for Armed Violence Reduction. Available from

22 23

Good Practices and

Current Scenario in
Latin America and the
In addition to complying with international norms and standards, an obvious first step
for ammunition controls anywhere is to have proper national legislation in place. While
detailed analysis of laws on ammunition control in Latin America and the Caribbean
is beyond the scope of this report, it is fair to note that the global finding of the
aforementioned UN report still holds today in the region: “in some countries existing
legislation can be considered comprehensive and effective, in others legislation is
inadequate or even lacking altogether”.1

Basic components of a proper normative framework would include, at a minimum,

the classification and definition of ammunition, licensing requirements for production,
transfers (import, export, transit, transshipment, etc.), rules for purchase, possession,
and sale (including maximum quantities for individuals and private security agents),
national registers, identification and marking, possible stockpiling standards, and
penalties for disrespect of any of these regulations, among others.2

In some cases, model legislation has been developed for particular thematic priorities,
such as that of marking and tracing by the OAS,3 or to domesticate international
obligations, such as CARICOM’s model legislation for ATT and UN PoA implementation;
“Member States are now required to enact legislation according to the Model to give
effect to their national obligation under the Treaty”.4 For nations with less robust
norms, a good basis for strengthening laws on firearms and ammunition is the “LEY
by Parlatino, CLAVE, and the Parliamentary Forum on SALW.5

Several countries in the Americas have good general firearms laws; these include
Barbados,6 Brazil,7 Costa Rica,8 Cuba,9 Dominican Republic,10 Paraguay,11 Peru,12 and
Trinidad and Tobago,13 to name a few. However, even some nations that have good
basic firearms norms may lack the same level of specific controls on ammunition.
Indeed, in several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, restriction levels on
firearms are significantly higher than those on ammunition, which is often less covered

24 25
in both laws and administrative norms. For example, Peru has virtually no limit on the CURRENT SCENARIO
number of rounds a civilian can purchase and does not restrict access to hollow point Always keeping in mind the importance of restraint and robust controls, we now turn
ammunition by individuals. According to a Central American expert consulted, “for towards a view of the current scenario. As noted above, in general, Latin America and
those working on reforming legislation, it is easier to suggest limitations or restrictions the Caribbean have demonstrated political leadership, but still suffer from procedural
to firearms than ammunition”, partially because a dearth of “research and analysis gaps in the practical implementation of some aspects of ammunition control. As
has limited public conscience of ammunition”, its limitations in national laws and, such, this section will offer a brief assessment of the current practices and a few
ultimately, “its non-inclusion in instruments like the PoA”. The same holds for issues, examples of what is being done, what works (impact/effectiveness), and what does
such as stockpiling, apprehension, and diversion (and statistics thereof): attention is not, in contrast with international best practices. As the full life-cycle of ammunition
disproportionately paid to firearms. and the ensuing fundamental controls are not necessarily germane to all countries,
this section will focus on three main areas, all extremely relevant to the vast majority
Another interviewed expert from the Caribbean concurred, noting that “because of nations in the region: (I) Marking, tracing, and diversion prevention; (II) Physical
firearms are always seen as the main tool of choice for criminal gangs, they are security and destruction of stockpiles; and (III) Forensic ballistics.
often seen as a greater political showpiece for the public to feel as if politicians
are taking action. As a result ammunition is overlooked and is not seen as having
equal importance to the equation”. In that sub-region, the expert continued, “most
countries in the region have a very outdated firearms act, which does not adequately Chapter 1
deal with the realities of the 21st century and needs to be significantly strengthened”,
though even some laws recently amended fall short “because technical persons are
Diversion Prevention Through Marking
often not consulted”. and Tracing
Moreover, it should be noted, however, that simply passing relatively strong legislation MARKING
is necessary, but insufficient, as it is only the first step towards a robust ammunition Marking ammunition – in order to preclude theft, diversion, and illicit trafficking, or
control system.14 The actual implementation of the law depends on the operational to understand how it happened after the fact in order to prevent future incidents
aspects of governance, law enforcement, and criminal justice, which, in turn, are – has long been recognized as absolutely essential, a corollary to the responsibility
contingent on proper political prioritization, budgeting, resource allocation, etc. It is of producing or importing ammunition. Moreover, recoverable markings, combined
here that many nations in Latin America and the Caribbean are often lacking. For with proper record keeping, can prove instrumental in helping solve firearm crimes,
example, though rightfully lauded as one of the continent’s most comprehensive particularly homicides. Markings must be made both to the cartridge itself, and to all
legislations on the matter, Brazil’s ‘Disarmament Statute’ has a few prescriptions packaging that accompanies ammunition in transport, sale, and stockpiling. Markings
that have not been implemented in practice.15 Particularly in regards to ammunition must generally follow two principles: clarity (identifications should be easy to read)
controls, the “ballistics database” determined by Article 2, item X, has simply never and uniformity (style and position of identifications should follow the same patterns).18
been implemented.16 Costa Rica reportedly is also encountering similar obstacles, not
yet implementing its version of the ballistic print obligation. All in all, legislation in the On packaging, for ammunition intended for the armed forces or other security
region generally should both cover and enforce ammunition controls at a higher level agencies, it is most common best practice to mark a manufacturer identification, type
than current practice. and/or caliber, quantity in package, year of production, and the lot code. For military
ammunition, a so-called NATO STANAG (standardization agreement) is the closest
RESTRAINT standard to a global norm;19 the document guiding these requirements is STANAG
With a proper normative framework in place, and its operational aspects given due 2953, or AOP-2(c) (Allied Ordnance Publication), The Identification of Ammunition.20
priority and being implemented efficiently, a stance of ‘restraint’ should guide all This standard, for calibers up to 20mm, requires packages including: the symbol for
aspects of ammunition control. A generally omitted aspect in discussions on arms the nature of the projectile (tracer, ball, armor piercing, etc.); quantity of ammunition;
and ammunition, whether for production, export, stockpiling, or use, “as little as caliber; packed configuration; lot number; and the NATO design mark (a cross within
possible” should determine a nation’s approach to small arms ammunition. Indeed, a circle).21
“ammunition beyond what a host nation requires for its legitimate defense needs is
simply not worth the cost to secure it or worth the risk posed by an accident or its This is required across NATO membership, but also in countries like Brazil, Colombia,
theft… The cost in life, property, and trust in the governments who do not do what is Russia, and South Africa, for their security forces, and also for “non-state actor
in their power to prevent such catastrophes bears witness to the valuable lessons to markets in CIP states and a number of states that are not CIP members such as
be learned by following international best practices for the stockpile management of Brazil”.22 In the Americas, only Chile is a member of the CIP – the legally-binding
conventional ammunition”.17 Permanent International Commission for the Proof of Small Arms23 - though

26 27
Figure 7 individual manufacturers have received homologation in their high standards24 to

Markings. Headstamp and Box

market their ammunition in CIP members, including CBC-Brazil, for eight different
types of ammunitions.25

In terms of cartridge cases, the most common combination of markings is only

1 manufacturer information plus year of production (military ammunition) or caliber
NATO (‘civilian’ ammunition).26 However, the Americas already have an excellent standard, as
design mark put forth by the aforementioned OAS Model Legislation for Marking and Tracing.27
(if applicable) Its Chapter III (Marking of Ammunition) establishes that manufacturers shall ensure
that “each cartridge is marked at the time of manufacture”; “each box of ammunition
is marked at the time of manufacture”; and that importers must mark both cartridges
and boxes accordingly (Article 4).

Moreover, Article 5 determines the “manner of marking”: “Each cartridge shall

be permanently marked by a headstamp impressed, stamped or embossed that
identifies the manufacturer, the country and year of manufacture, and a unique batch
2 M A 60 3 or lot number”; headstamp markings on cartridges shall “consist of simple geometric
Manufacturer's Last two digits symbols in combination with a numeric and/or alphanumeric code; be of a size that
initials or of year of is readily legible to the naked eye; and be of a quality and/or depth such that the
recognized manufacture markings cannot be readily tampered with or removed” and “each box of ammunition
ID letters of complete shall be marked with the same identification as on the headstamp marking” and “the
round. unique batch or lot number of the ammunition”. Boxes of “imported ammunition
shall contain, in addition to the marking referred to in paragraph 3, information that
identifies the country of import, the year of import and the importer”. In other words,
nations in Latin America and the Caribbean are already bound by a detailed rendition
of best practices in ammunition marking; it is just a matter of implementing them.

1. NATO stock number: 5. Symbols for the type of Detailed, traceable information on packaging and lot numbering for cartridges are
this is a 13-digit numeric pack; in this case, the best practices to strive for. In current general practice, the omission of lot number
code that standardizes 1 1305-21-123-4567 “linked” information on cartridges has been blamed on “the general absence of a stipulation
the identifiation of supply 2 700 6. Model of link by customers that these marks should be applied”28 or, more bluntly, “producers mark
ítems. Refer to STANAG 7. Lot number: lot serial only what clients ask and pay for”.29 However, in looking at ammunition controls mostly
3150 and 3151 for further 3 7.62 mm number, manufacturer from an economic and industry perspective, the role of governmental regulation,
details 4 4 1 initials, last two digits of legal prescriptions, and private sector innovation can be overlooked.
2. Quantity of ammunition the year of production
5 6 T89
3. Calibre of ammunition 8. NATO symbol of Best practices in Latin America and the Caribbean regarding ammunition marking
4. Symbols representing 7 296-HT-60 interchangeability come from different sub-regions. In the Dominican Republic, cumpolsary marking,
the nature of the bullet 8 (if applicable) including for the civilian market, was regulated in 2007 so that imported ammunition
as packed; in this case, 9. NATO design mark receives a country code, code identifying the importing company, import year,
9 caliber, and lot number marking.30 As such, importers request the marking at the
the symbols mean four (if applicable)
armour-piercing bullets production point, and have even joined with competitors to ensure reaching the
and one tracer round minimum quantity a given exporter would ship.31 Ammunition for police or security
forces receives, sometimes, a distinct code for the procuring agency instead of for the
importing company. Conversely, Argentina has received recommendations to mark
Source SAS-NATO (2008) the ammunition it produces in this mold, which may also be similar to the standards
used in Venezuela.32 In addition to requesting consideration of taking up laser-
marking for secondary marking and additional information, the proposal suggested

28 29
codes for security forces: AR PFA (Policía Federal), AR GNA (Gendarmería Nacional Figure 8

Laser Marking
Argentina), AR PNA (Prefectura Naval Argentina), and AR PSA (Policía de Seguridad
Aeroportuaria),33 but may not have been implemented yet.

Country code Importer



In Colombia – which years ago deemed itself a “pioneering country in marking firearms,
ammunition and explosives”,34 a moniker currently less adept for its ammunition –
markings for military and civilian market ammunition are distinct.35 INDUMIL’s 5.56 x
45mm ammunition includes codes for producer (“IM”), year of production (4 digits)
and lot (4 digits), while its ammunition for “self-defense” in various calibers includes
the caliber specification (38, 32 or 7.65mm) and producer (“INDUMIL”).36 As the military
calibers are marked in lots of 25,000 cartridges, tracing is optimized for ammunition
from the security forces; civilian ammunition, however, only has lot markings on
packages, not cartridges.37 Over a decade ago, these markings allowed for a very Photo Credit: CBC
high solution rate on tracing requests (98%, though this also included firearms and
explosives) and were deemed innovative and “high standards”.38 The same analysis Figure 9
noted the lack of markings on civilian ammunition was due to the “high costs they
would represent to buyers” and “a difficult policy decision”,39 a stance that as argued
Marking: Packages and Boxes
herein is probably obsolete today.

The case of Brazil is instructive in the feasibility and importance of rendering marks
as detailed as possible in order to ensure greater success for tracing attempts. On
marking, Brazil’s firearms and ammunition legislation (Disarmament Statute, 2003)
basically foreshadowed the OAS’s recommendations, eventually combining with
private sector innovation to create a clear case of best practice, not only for the
Americas, but worldwide. The law’s determination was not easy to come by, with
much discussion and jostling by all interested stakeholders in the months prior. The
new legislation stipulated what needed to be done (marking cartridges for security
forces with lot and purchaser information), but not “how”.40 As such, it was contingent
on industrial ingenuity and innovation to find a solution, which CBC did by globally
pioneering the use of laser-marking ammunition cartridges.41
Photo Credit CBC

30 31
Shortly after the law came into effect, in addition to noting the discouraging effects monopolistic CBC producing, selling and exporting exhorbitant amounts, as
on potential transgressors, experts “expected that lot numbers will help the police virtually the sole provider to police forces, civilians and exports. Today, CBC exports
to identify patterns of ammunition leakages from the police or the military to roughly 85% of its production, with an emphasis on ‘premium’ small caliber military
organized crime”, and that marking cartridges would “provide the federal police ammunition for NATO militaries, having received multiple homologations in said
and the justice system with a powerful tool to enable them quickly to identify and highly-sought standard since its first, in 2007.50 CBC’s annual production may
punish those state agents responsible for diverting ammunition to criminal outfits surpass 1.5 billion rounds, rendering it one of the world’s top three ammunition
or for not taking the necessary security measures to prevent the theft and diversion producers, and includes production in acquired factories in Germany (MEN) and the
of ammunition. It (was) also expected that ammunition marking will provoke a Czech Republic (Sellier & Bellot).51
‘virtuous circle’ by strengthening the control and security of military and police
stockpiles”.42 Brazil’s use and stockpiling of small arms ammunition is high. For example, since
1989, private security companies in Brazil have reportedly gone through over 122
While it took a few years to fully implement the measure (for different calibers, million rounds of ammunition; almost 46.7 million between January 2010 and
entry into force was between January and July 2005, but most police forces only May 2015, a month which saw over 1 million rounds destined to private security.52
confirmed consistently receiving duly marked ammunition in 2008),43 current While sales to, and use by, police forces and civilians are most often not informed,
reports note that growing pains have subsided. Proper implementation was also the Ministry of Defense reported that between 1995 and 2002, CBC sold 320.9
contingent on the creation of detailed technical and administrative prescriptions, million rounds to “gun shops and ammunition distribution depots”.53 High levels of
such as the size of the lot (10,000)44 and the information that needed to be part of ammunition usage is also evident, not only in the country’s leading total numbers
the database for tracing: name of buyer, governmental sale authorization, product of firearm-related homicides, but also of ‘stray-bullet incidents’; according to
code, ammunition description, delivery lot number, invoice information, and transit a UNLIREC study, between 2014 and 2015, a total of 197 cases (with 98 deaths)
authorisation.45 occurred in Brazil, over 26% of all cases in Latin America and the Caribbean.54

TRACING In a recent study, Instituto Sou da Paz analyzed the ammunition apprehended in
Together with proper record-keeping46 (accessible, online ‘live’ databases the state of Rio de Janeiro between January 2014 and June 2017. The findings were
constantly updated with correct, disaggregated data, kept for long – 10 years as staggering: over a half million rounds of ammunition were apprehended by Rio’s
per Brazil’s regulations), detailed marking (“one lot, one client”) allows for tracing of police forces – a monthly average of around 13,000 rounds – which, if used, would
ammunition diverted, trafficked, or used in firearm-related violence. Tracing best allow 430 shots per day.55 For the only year (2014) that proper information regarding
practice would follow a three-fold process: identification, mapping, and verification. the producers was made available, 42% of the apprehended ammunition – or
To wit, identification is “the collection of information on the physical characteristics almost 59 thousand rounds – were made by CBC.56 Interestingly, a full 28% of the
of the ammunition, in order to determine the identity of the manufacturer, the date ammunition was not identified (read: properly marked and/or registered) in terms
of manufacture, the country of origin and the calibre of the ammunition”; mapping, of producers, 23% were “others”, while the Mexican manufacturer Águila appeared
the “recording of ammunition samples drawn from different localities or groups, with 5%.57
so that this information can be used to build up a detailed “photograph” of the
transfer methods for this ammunition”; and verification, the “cross-checking the Unfortunately, though “Brazilian ammunition should be the object of systematic
information by means of additional research”, including through enquiries with tracing”, the study notes a lack of analysis, studies and tracing attempts in Brazil.58 In
experts and governmental authorities.47 other words, though the aforementioned expectant experts were correct in noting
the ameliorated marking requirements were a “powerful tool” for Brazilian authorities,
It has been well pointed out that marking and tracing is not a ‘silver bullet’ in it appears the tool is going unused, even if large apprehensions are constantly
resolving these challenges: “While lot numbers can certainly help, they are not the made, particularly in Rio de Janeiro.59 The markings allow one to recognize the
turn-key solution to the ammunition-tracing problem. A realistic contribution that ammunition produced in Brazil, and gives much information for any ammunition
ammunition marking could bring to an investigation would be to provide a ‘shortlist’ diverted from the security forces, but the tracing apparently is not often conducted.
of possible sources of diversion”.48 But they can indeed help. The study notes the legal responsibility for monitoring ammunition production
and sales lies with the Brazilian Army, which uses a monitoring system (SICOVEM)
In the case of Brazil, which has been called an “explosive cocktail: a prosperous that was donated by CBC, which the study deems “clear evidence of a conflict of
and inadequately regulated ammunition industry in a violent country,”49 such help interest”.60 In conclusion, the analysis calls for lot marking on ammunition cartridges
is most needed. Small arms ammunition is big business in Brazil, with the quasi- produced by CBC, but sold to the civilian market.

32 33
Figure 10 In terms of tracing, in all fairness, the regulated company has provided to the regulator

Apprehension by Caliber in Rio de

the necessary tools to properly implement the controls. In addition to the marking
and record-keeping, which automatically couples the information laser-marked on

Janeiro 2014-1017 61 the cartridges with the packaging details and inserts the data into an online database,
access is given to the DFPC and state police units, which can log-in, input the
information found on a cartridge or box, and immediately receive information on first
The three calibers that appear in larger volumes in the seizures are: 9mm (restricted buyer, authorization, product’s code, lot number, and invoice.62 More often than not,
gauge present in pistols and submachine guns), 7.62mm (restricted gauge found the security forces either do not take this step, or do not follow-up on the information
mainly in rifles), and .38 caliber, predominant in revolvers. obtained.

Grading of ammunition seized between JAN / 2014 and JUN / 2017 More recently, UNLIREC conducted a study in Dominican Republic63 creating a
profile of ammunition seized at border controls and recovered from crime scenes.
.380 42.718 7.78% Preliminary findings show that 26% of ammunition recovered from crime scenes
9mm 150.593 27.44%
.22 20.812 3.79% had import markings and Águila and CBC accounted for at least 17% and 8% of the
7.62 mm / .32 19.950 3.54% evidence recovered. In the graphic below, most common calibers found are shown.
77.232 14.07%

.38 57.103 10.41% .12 16.119 2.94% When considering the closest possible approximation between the ideal and
Other the feasible, it should be recalled that “a fully comprehensive approach to tracing
.40 55.818 10.17% 30.871 5.63% illicit ammunition would require that every single ammunition package and round
of ammunition be reliably traceable through its chain of transfer. It should not be
5.56 mm / Undetermined 12.013 2.19% forgotten, however, that there is significant scope for more limited standards that, while
46.432 8.46%
.223 not necessarily allowing for the reliable tracing of all ammunition in every situation,
would make a substantial contribution to combating illicit ammunition trafficking by
limiting the leakage of ammunition from state actor markets”.64 Moreover, the “major
Total 548.777 100% differences” in tracing shipments of illicit ammunition to conflicts, for example, and
“tracing a single ammunition cartridge stolen from a sport shooter and used in an
Graphic: Instituto Sou da Paz armed robbery in the United States” must be considered.65 That said, some existing
guidelines and standards are quite helpful.

Figure 11 The OAS Model Legislation on Marking and Tracing also duly covers the issues of

Dominican Republic. Crime Scenes 2017 record-keeping (Article 6) and tracing (Articles 7, 8 and 9). The norm determines
a national registry, which in the case of ammunition shall include (and keep for 30
years): “the identifying marking of a cartridge and ammunition box”, the name and
3500 100%
85.94% 90%
location of the owner, and of “authorized producers, dealers, brokers, importers and
3000 exporters”, the date of entry of information to registry, and information concerning
2500 70% each ammunition import, export and in-transit transaction.66
2000 60%
1500 As per tracing, minimum requirements are the determination of the national authority
“responsible for responding to and making tracing requests” (which should ensure
20% confidentiality), the information to be provided in said requests (markings, type,
4.45% 3.45% 1.86% 1.84% 2.45% 10% caliber, other characteristics), its legal justification (describing the illicit nature of the
0 0% ammunition, and circumstances in which it was found), and the “intended use of
9mm .38” .380” 12GA +16GA 5.56 mm Other the information being sought”. In its tracing response, a government shall provide
(9x19) (9x17) +20GA handgun “a timely and accurate response” and, “to the extent possible”, confirmation that the
ammunition was manufactured or imported by the State; information on manufacturer
Number of cartridges % of cartridges and importer; the date of manufacture or import; and whether it was exported legally
Case Study and Methodology

34 35
(with ensuing details) or not, which “should be promptly communicated to the Prior to CBC’s innovation on laser marking, a common argument against changes
requesting State and the former shall provide results of the ensuing investigation”.67 to the ammunition market was one of cost; compared to firearms, “ammunition
marking can have a proportionally greater financial impact on projection costs. This
In addition to the OAS prescriptions, the OSCE Best Practice Guide on Ammunition can seriously affect a firm’s competitiveness in terms of a procurement opportunity”.79
Marking, Registration and Record-Keeping is the international yardstick in this While this was true for traditional techniques, it simply no longer holds. As previously
area, recalling that “all ammunition should be marked appropriately and accurately noted, currently “UNLIREC supports the use of laser technology to mark ammunition
[…]. Appropriate markings provide a major contribution to safety, security and the wherever access exists to the technology necessary for its implementation”.80
administrative management of the ammunition stockpile”.68 This document is
particularly helpful in the theme of registration and record-keeping, which “should CBC currently uses the VideoJet laser marking equipment in its factory, which
span the entire life cycle of ammunition, from its production to its consumption or reportedly costs about USD100,000 per unit between equipment and technology.81
disposal/destruction” and “are the keys to controlling legal stocks of ammunition and Maintenance costs are approximately USD9,300 for the production of 5 million
preventing them from becoming illicit”.69 These activities should be conducted at cartridges.82 The company acknowledges not only that the initial costs were not
manufacture, testing, time of shipment and receipt, storage and possession, in case prohibitive, but that they can be seen as an investment that led to reputational and
of loss or theft, at consumption/use or disposal/destruction, and at any transport and quality gains, an additional factor in CBC being widely recognized as a high-tech,
handling.70 ‘premium’ ammunition producer.83 In terms of financial cost, the estimated additional
15% per unit is recovered by the market performance, due to its unique trustworthiness
TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS AND COSTS and control for use and stockpiling by security forces, in addition to the high quality
The use of other technological innovations can be most helpful in precluding diversion levels of the product in terms of ballistic performance.84 Current production levels –
and assuring ammunition security. Of course, technology in itself is no panacea for including laser-marking – are between 100 and 120 cartridges per minute.85
ammunition controls, and depends on having the physical, human, and IT resources
in place to take advantage of the tools. As such, it is essential to “walk before you run”: To be clear, CBC did not necessarily want to mark its ammunition with laser – it was
basic controls should be in place before considering costly and high-tech systems. compelled to do so, because of a political decision and legal determination. Industrial,
For example, “in poorer countries, meeting basic [Physical Security and Stockpile private sector innovation was sparked by an imposed governmental regulation.
Management] requirements is likely to be prioritized over establishing digital inventory- In response, in January 2005, CBC implemented what it called SIP (“Sistema de
management systems”.71 Nor are high-tech innovations always easy to introduce, as Identificação Personalizada de Munições”), “integrated into production, managed
“barriers to the adoption of the new technologies… include the conservative nature by an exclusive information technology system that offers online individual tracing
of military and law-enforcement agencies and the historically slow pace of change in possibility for all ammunition sold to Brazilian public agencies, allowing for the
firearms technology”.72 identification of the purchaser upon finding either the cartridge or packaging”.86

That said, two especially interesting technologies are the use of Radio Frequency Other legal determinations and technological solutions can be found; for example, the
Identification (RFID) technology and ‘chip strips’ technology on ammunition technology of micro-stamping ammunition has also shown promise. This process –
packaging.73 RFID technology transfers data from a tag on the ammunition packaging in which a “unique, traceable code is inscribed onto […] the firearm and subsequently
“to a reader using radio waves for the purpose of identification and tracking… passive imprinted onto the weapon’s ammunition as it is fired” – at least in theory allows
RFID tags can be read even inside a case, carton, box, or other contained, and from a investigators to identify and trace ammunition components to guns that have been
distance of up to several meters”, as opposed to bar codes.74 Indeed, “by using readily used in criminal activities even when the guns are not accessible, and also to identify
available RFID systems, it is possible to undertake detailed checks on a weapon and the last retail purchaser of the firearms linked to the ammunition.
its ammunition throughout the journey from manufacturer to final authorized user”.75
Once more, the region reportedly is at the forefront: “its application in the field of Assuming that reading the codes does not require specialized forensic equipment
arms control is relatively recent and has also been pioneered by Brazil, followed by or expertise, the routine use of microstamping would also reduce the workloads of
other Latin American countries”.76 With the cost of the technology decreasing – tags overstretched forensic examiners”.87 Further breakthroughs using laser-marking are
are currently available for between 10 and 50 cents of a dollar per unit77 – this trend fully feasible as well, and, if implemented, “the traceability of ammunition will reach a
should continue to grow until it is universal. Another technology also shows promise, level never before achieved”.88
particularly for the transport or international transfer of ammunition boxes: ‘chip
strips’ “unique electronic identity” would allow “the capacity to scan ammunition Broadly speaking, innovation in ammunition technology per se has been rather
boxes in a truck and given the fact that scanners feature GPS, the location and time limited in the decades after the development of cartridge-based ammunition.89 While
of departure could be recorded, as well as the arrival at an intermediate or final the potential for technological innovation to firearms that could limit their misuse
destination”.78 and lethality is enormous (‘smart guns’), changes to ammunition have often focused

36 37
on making them lighter (‘caseless’ cartridges, use of polymers), or more powerful/
destructive, accurate, and long-range.90 While the hope of using technology to make Chapter 2:
ammunition ‘safer’ is perhaps wishful thinking, technology can be used to great avail
for stronger ammunition controls.
Physical Security and Destruction of
While not currently done, laser marking technology would also allow for the post-
production marking of lot number information on all ammunition, also for the civilian STOCKPILE MANAGEMENT
market, as rounds could be finalised in line with demand projections and marked According to the IATGs, “The term ‘stockpile management’ refers to those procedures
only when a buyer is determined. The first-buyer identification could arguably take and activities regarding the safe and secure accounting, storage, transportation,
different forms under different systems, but could inform the distributor, store, or handling and disposal of conventional ammunition. The objective of conventional
geographical destination (such as a Brazilian or US state if divided over different ammunition stockpile management is to reduce the hazard to local communities
distributors/sellers). Regardless of the details, from unplanned explosive events and to negate the risks to wider communities posed
by the uncontrolled proliferation of ammunition. Conventional ammunition stockpile
“a more comprehensive focus on tracing illicit ammunition would cover not only management comprises six complementary groups of activities:
ammunition on state actor markets, but also ammunition on non-state actor
markets. This would include the ability to trace a cartridge case recovered in A. C. E.
the context of a criminal act. Such comprehensive tracing would require all ammunition ammunition security of
ammunition to be reliably traceable throughout its legal supply chain. Specifically, storage accounting ammunition
it would require even the smallest quantity of ammunition transferred to an stockpiles
individual recipient to be marked with a unique code”.91

There is a need to go further than the current status quo, as in addition to the
obsoleteness of the cost argument, “no technical or technological barrier can any
longer justify the absence or inadequacy of marking”.92 All cartridges manufactured B. D. F.
in Latin America and the Caribbean – and the entire world, for that matter – should ammunition ammunition transport of
be marked with a lot number and an identification number of the ‘smallest packaging processing, demilitarization ammunition
unit’, regardless of whether it is intended for the military or the civilian market. maintenance or destruction
and repair

A number of other enabling activities are required to support these six components
of stockpile management, including: risk assessment and planning, allocation of
resources, information management, human skills development and management
training, quality management, and the selection and use of effective, appropriate
and safe equipment.” Another crucial aspect to ammunition controls is the Physical
Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM).93

In decidedly simplistic terms, stockpile safety prevents ammunition from killing people
either by blowing up, by falling into the wrong hands, or by becoming dangerous even
in the ‘right hands’ if they become unstable or fail when needed. Though stockpile
management measures can be highly technical and use expensive technologies –
particularly for explosive munitions for light weapons or conventional arms – it is
not necessarily so, especially for small arms ammunition: “PSSM isn’t rocket science,
it’s creating simple measures that have a high impact.”94 In fact, “relatively low levels
of donor investment in tailored infrastructure, procedural developments, and staff
training can make a significant impact on risk reduction”.95 Ultimately, being able
to store ammunition safely is a precondition to produce, procure, use, and hold

38 39
ammunition responsibly in the first place. Yet, “if a state has the ability to procure and and the ‘Best Practice Guide on Physical Security of Stockpiles of Conventional
use ammunition, it is also able to manage the goods safely throughout their lifecycle”.96 Ammunition’, and the SEESAC Ammunition and Explosives Stockpile Management,100
which, as mentioned, may, in some ways, be particularly germane to the Latin
However, proper political prioritization and some investment are urgently needed. American and Caribbean nations.101 All in all, States “have access to a set of excellent
When asked about regional “worst practices”, an interviewed expert from the Caribbean standards and best practices concerning stockpile management. The key task is
highlighted that “diversion prevention, which is often due to an inefficient criminal effective implementation, and that is to a great extent a political task. Effort toward
justice system where from the point of confiscation to trial to destruction the period implementation needs to be tailored to each State (and often to individual ministries
can be years or even a decade. Stockpile management and destruction are also serious and agencies within that State). Stockpile management is politically sensitive, especially
problems where the systems that exist are for the most part inefficient for properly when it concerns explosions and diversion of State stockpiles.”102
accounting for and monitoring all weapons/ammunition.”97 For countries with such
a low level of current practice, much work and assistance are needed: “experience The OSCE management document “contains information useful for those individuals
has shown that it is unlikely that many states could achieve international best practice currently working in ammunition storage locations and those managers involved in
(often equated with ‘NATO standards’) of ammunition storage infrastructure without the chain of command over these facilities that are working to establish national policy
significant capital investment. Donors have, to date, shown a reluctance to fund such and procedures.”103 More than only managing physical ammunition (including a full

As such, it suits to remember that ammunition stockpiling, if anything, may

be more urgent and is more complex than that for weapons: “Practices around
the world saw stockpiled weapons and ammunition being dealt with in a similar
fashion, often addressing the subject with security mindset before safety principles.
Common approach has been in a secure storage and set of guard, whereas
ammunition needs continuous and extensive care during storage, more so than
most conventional weapons. Besides the lethality factor that involves unplanned
explosions and numerous victims, poor ammunition stockpile management can
also lead to diversion from stockpiles through theft and illicit trade”.99 Likewise,
inventory ‘loss’ or ‘leakage’ involving internal actors and corruption is common in
Latin America and the Caribbean, so both acts of commission and omission are
essential to prevention.

According to an interviewed expert from North America, “Success only comes if there
is an enabling environment, consisting of structural conditions that underpin national
ownership of any effective system. Those conditions are: normative framework
(legislation, regulations, governing documents, etc.); a structural framework for
coordination, oversight, and implementation (establishment of organizations with
defined roles, responsibilities, and that have the authority necessary and can be held
accountable); physical capacity to implement the process (facilities, equipment); and
financial and human resources for implementing and maintaining related processes
and activities. For years, nations addressed stockpile management and physical
security from the ground up, at the storage level, and that approach has not work as a
sustainable model. Effective ammunition stockpile and life-cycle management must
be a top-down approach, to ensure it becomes institutionalized and sustainable.”

Unfortunately – as with marking, record-keeping, and tracing – there are no

international binding regulations or standards, though best practice guides are
likewise widely available for the physical security of ammunition stockpiles. These
include the UN SaferGuard initiative and the UN IATGs, the OSCE’s ‘Best Practice
Guide on Procedures for Management of Stockpiles of Conventional Ammunition’

40 41
physical inventory of stock annually), these guidelines also focus on the importance Figure 12

PSSM Best Practice Cards - Small

of managing the information relevant to the stocks, particularly regarding records
and reports of loss/theft/diversion, in addition to use, particularly for security forces
and private security, as false and unverified reports of use can be a smokescreen for
diversion. Vetting, training, and keeping staff up-to-date, as well as accountable, for Arms Survey
any deviation from optimal norms is also emphasized. On technical practices for
stockpiling, the following items are discussed in detail: safety and storage (robustness
and capacity of stockpile facilities), facility standard operating procedures, quality
(condition of ammunition), and supply management (organisation of stockpiles).

As per physical security best practices, the OSCE document begins by recalling
that “every holder of ammunition has a legal and moral duty of care to those it
employs in the management of the ammunition and the general public that may
be affected by the theft and potential use of ammunition stolen from ammunition
storage facilities and from an explosive event within an ammunition storage
site”.104 Its technical recommendations cover protection modes (ingress/egress of
unauthorized persons), integrated security systems, intrusion detection systems and
considerations on fencing, lighting, locks, and response to security breaches. The
best practices document goes on to cover the “implementation of the stockholders
duty of care”, a set of requirements“designed to manage risks and hazards associated
with the storage and handling of ammunition and explosives by providing protection
criteria to minimize loss of life, serious injury and damage to property”, as follows:
UN Classification of Dangerous Goods, Explosion Effects, Hazard and Risk Analysis,
Hazard Mitigation, Explosives Quantity Distances, Safe Guarding of Explosive Sites,
and Waivers and Exemptions.105

Even more detailed are arguably the NATO ‘Allied Ammunition Storage and
Transportation Publications 1 and 2’ (AASTP-1 and 2),106 which are “generally regarded
by technical specialists as one of the most comprehensive documents covering the
principles of safe storage and transport of ammunition” and deemed “international
best practice”.107 Likewise, the IATGs offer detailed technical knowledge over twelve
series, to wit: (1) Introduction and Principles of Ammunition Management, (2) Risk
Management, (3) Ammunition Accounting, (4) Explosive Facilities Storage (Field and
Temporary Conditions), (5) Explosives Facilities Storage (Infrastructure and Equipment),
(6) Explosive Facilities Storage (Operations), (7) Ammunition Processing, (8) Transport
of Ammunition, (9) Security of Ammunition, (10) Ammunition Demilitarization and
Destruction, (11) Ammunition Accidents, Reporting and Investigation, and (12)
Ammunition Operational Support.108

It should be once more noted, however, that the NATO standards are available in
English and French (and usually are not publically available or must be purchased) and
IATGs are in English and Portuguese and sometimes French; neither set of technical
standards is thus accessible in Spanish. In some cases, resources from civil society
organizations have attempted to fill this gap; of particular note – in addition to the
aforementioned GICHD Ammunition Safety Management app109 – are the PSSM
Best Practice Cards, developed by the Small Arms Survey, which portray essential
information on playing cards available also in Portuguese,110 Spanish,111 and French.112

Source: SAS

42 43
Finally, UNLIREC can also provide technical briefing notes on ammunition controls Figure 13

From the Legal to the Illicit Sphere

and stockpile management, including ‘Small Arms Ammunition - Loss of Batch Key
Identity’ (Note 2011/02) and ‘Surplus Ammunition’ (Note 2011/05).113 A constant
schedule of capacity building and training activities also aims to assist the region’s
governments on PSSM.114 Moreover, UNLIREC has “generic Standard Operating DOMESTIC
Procedures (SOPs) for stockpile management and destruction of small arms and MARKET
light weapons”, including on Ammunition Storage, with several guidelines germane PRIVATE
to ammunition stockpile management, including on Risk Management, Ammunition IMPORTER AUTHORIZED
Storage, Security, and Transport.115 Tailor-made assistance in the implementation for
these guidelines has so far been offered to 18 countries in the region and remains STATE
available upon request to interested states (for a compendium of UNLIREC Stockpile INDUSTRIAL IMPORTER
Management and Destruction Tools please see Annex 4) PRODUCTION INDUSTRIAL
So which of the Latin American and Caribbean nations are fully and flawlessly MANUFACTURER FORGED - CORRUPTION
implementing the UN IATGs, NATO and OSCE standards? In all honesty, probably AUTHORIZATION DOCUMENTATION - ARSENAL THEFT
none. However, there are vastly discrepant levels of compliance with stockpile IMPORT / EXPORT - UNAUTHORIZED
management best practices, with some countries performing much better than EXPORT
others. While detailed operational information is most often not made available, a - RE-EXPORT
potential proxy to the quality of PSSM may be the periodicity and volume of accidents - 2ND HAND NON-
and diversion. This counterfactual exercise – “no news is good news” – must be - LOCAL BLACK
taken with a grain of salt: the lack of explosions or widely reported diversion from MARKET
stocks does not necessarily indicate good PSSM, as other factors (such as sheer luck, - CROSS BORDER
low levels of crime, or weak press and criminal justice systems) could play a role. TRAFFICKING
Conversely, however, a tendency for UEMS incidents and common ‘leaking’ from - POROUS BORDERS
government stocks definitely indicates poor stockpile management.

In terms of UEMS incidents, as noted in the introduction, over a period of 15 years

about 1.5 annual incidents occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean, though only
11 countries experienced them. Between 1979 and 2013, only three incidents were UNAUTHORIZED
reported in the Caribbean (Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago), FINAL USER
while Central America had eight (though none in Belize, Costa Rica, or Panama), and
South America, a total of 23 (though none in Bolivia, Suriname, or Uruguay).116 In
the same period, only one incident occurred at a production plant in the region, the
January 2011 incident in Maracay, Venezuela, at CAVIM.117 In comparison with regions
such as Asia, Eastern Europe, and parts of Africa, these numbers are relatively low. Illicit Trafficking Legal Trade Documentation
Conversely, the levels of diversion (theft, criminal sale, and corruption leading to
the illicit proliferation of ammunition) in the region is quite high. The possibilities for
ammunition entering the illicit market can be summarized by “internal” and “external”
flows. In the first case, “diversion (via theft or corruption) from military and police
inventories; diversion from private security companies and gun shops; purchase in
gun shops by taking advantage of weak or non-existent controls (particularly for small
calibre ammunition); illicit sales from ammunition factories and shops; ammunition
stolen from individuals in burglaries (particularly for small calibre ammunition)”.
For “external flows”: “international trafficking networks; smuggling of ammunition
purchased in neighbouring countries due to legal loopholes, as well as weak law
enforcement and border controls”; or international movements of ammunition after
they have been diverted internally in one of the above scenarios.118

44 45
In Latin America and the Caribbean, more often than not, diversion is caused by ‘weak that “there are simple measures in terms of safety, security and stockpile management
lawmakers’ rather than ‘strong lawbreakers’.119 Relatedly, of the four usual types of that could be taken into use from the IATG in most situations, e.g. simple accounting
ammunition trafficking (therefore across borders) in the typology put forth by Bourne methods, small-unit storage guidelines, and temporary storage guidelines.”125
and Berkol – ‘ant trade’, diversion from authorized transfers and sources, covert
sponsorship by foreign governments, and large-scale black-market transfers120 – the The dynamics fleshed out above suggest that many countries in Latin America and
region suffers primordially from the first two modalities. Especially relevant within both the Caribbean must urgently address both the physical security aspects of PSSM and
the ‘weak lawmaking’ and the predominance of theft of government stocks, liabilities the management measures; those that depend on staff, training, procedures, and
surrounding stockpile management are a major source of ammunition ‘leakage’. stamping out corruption and opportunities for diversion. Even fairly safe buildings and
depots can become vulnerable when the processes and openings involving (possibly
Perhaps most common in the region is the leaking from state ammunition holdings criminal) human behavior are less robust. Ultimately, “more so than anything else,
that dovetails the characteristics of what, for international trafficking, facilitates the safe management of ammunition is about the people carrying it out, their knowledge,
‘ant trade’ and the diversion of authorised sources. In other words, diversion from attitudes and skills”.126 As an expert consulted put it, “Military personnel working
state stockpiles that tends to be more of a trickle than a river; in the case of Brazil, for with ammunition in small countries can usually be counted in one hand, which is
example, “the modus operandi is different when it comes to diversion from the armed not sufficient to follow the IATG and implement them in practice. Generally, there
forces or the police. In these cases it is a network of corrupt officials that diverts boxes is goodwill to follow the IATGs, but not enough manpower to do so.”127 Indeed, as
of ammunition little by little (three to five boxes containing 20 to 50 rounds each another expert noted, “There is great potential in training, targeting the lower level
time). Other officials, usually retired, collect and stockpile the diverted ammunition of storekeepers and depot managers, which could also be done by taking advantage
and then distribute it to purchasers in criminal organizations.”121 on new forms of training delivery which scale well, especially in a linguistically
homogenous environment (e.g. by providing good traditional course material, or
Another common phenomenon stems from the lack of protocols for apprehended engaging in blended or online training).”128
ammunition, which may follow several paths (police depots, judicial agencies, forensic
ballistic laboratories) or be informally incorporated into police stocks, all of which Despite these gaps and vulnerabilities, best practices exist in the region, particularly
makes ammunition vulnerable to diversion, misuse, or accidents. Undoubtedly, and with external donor and technical support. Argentina, for example, in 2007, “enacted
also for ammunition, a legal requirement that the armed forces and police should report weapons found
to be missing from their inventories”, an important “improvement in accountability”
“law enforcement has vulnerabilities that are not present in armed forces operating that was pressed for by civil society and led to a 2012 audit that found thousands of
outside war zones. First, firearms are routinely removed from safe storage and rounds of ammunition – including 1,300 from the air force – were missing.129 Indeed,
taken out on patrol on the streets; and storage in police stations and similar this excellent example “should be considered by other States that have not yet done
establishments is dispersed and often small scale. This creates numerous difficulties so. Transparency can highlight the existence of a problem and is often a first step to
for effective stockpile management and opportunities for unscrupulous people to solving it.”130
divert guns and ammunition. Second, law enforcement is often responsible for
firearms that have been seized from criminals and held as evidence. Such stocks Another marked improvement in stockpile management practices comes from the
of firearms have a high turnover which makes inventory management difficult, Dominican Republic, which together with UNLIREC, developed a National Action
and are therefore vulnerable to loss, theft or corrupt sale.”122 Plan for Stockpile Management and Firearms and Ammunition Destruction that
included enhancing the “security of 40 weapons and ammunition stockpile facilities
Regardless of the magnitude, modus operandi or the illegal end-user of the diverted belonging to the Dominican Army, Navy and Air Force” and training over 50 officials
ammunition – which usually is domestic rather than international –, it is undeniable in stockpile management standards and operations, making for a more sustainable
that “enhanced stockpile management and security is the key to ensuring that small PSSM programme.131 A similar project was also implemented by UNLIREC in most of
and large leakages from state stocks do not feed illicit trafficking”.123 the CARICOM countries, a first for ammunition PSSM efforts in the sub-region, with
very good results.
Such improvements, however, need not be highly expensive or complex; in the
words of one interviewed expert from the Caribbean, “Without the use of high-tech Another example of productive external assistance in stockpile management comes
stockpile management/inventory systems, the use of simple, specific and practical from El Salvador, which in March 2013, partnered with Mines Advisory Group (MAG)
databases that can be used to log and retrieve information about inventory as for a project that identified ten weapons/munitions “storage facilities across the
opposed to paper-based solutions would make a significant difference. Additionally, country where stockpiles are extremely vulnerable to theft” and implemented a three-
strong leadership and supervision around all systems is necessary to ensure that the month long project with El Salvador’s Armed Forces to provide “new fencing, gates,
policies are enforced and procedures followed every time.”124 Another expert noted cameras, high security locks and lighting” to “reduce the likelihood of weapons and

46 47
ammunition falling into the wrong hands”.132 While the Salvadoran military was aware
of the risks posed by poor PSSM infrastructure, their lack of resources and technical DISPOSAL AND DESTRUCTION
knowledge had precluded action, for which MAG provided specialist knowledge and
oversight, “ensuring compliance with international standards”.133

In Honduras, between 2013 and 2014, the US Office of Weapons Removal and
Abatement allocated U$500,000 to MAG to “support physical security and
stockpile management (PSSM) and SALW and munitions destruction programs”,
supporting security upgrades at storage sites, destruction activities and training on
both themes. The programme included a visit by the US Defense Threat Reduction
Agency, which assessed the “PSSM practices and procedures at storage sites used
by the national police, Ministerio Público (Public Ministry), and military”, providing
recommendations on safe storage.134 Also in 2013, the DTRA conducted a PSSM
seminar in Suriname to orient “28 low- to mid-level military, law enforcement, and
security personnel with direct stockpile management responsibilities to international
PSSM best practices”. 135


Keeping ammunition over time (and changing circumstances) is a continuously
growing liability. Ammunition shelf life is less than that of weapons, as explosives
and chemicals may degrade, becoming unsafe or unstable, eventually exploding or
becoming errant or useless. Often, disposal of ammunition is a direct consequence
of miscalculations made vis-a-vis other aspects of stockpile management, including
determining the required levels of ammunition production or procurement. Lack In terms of guidelines, arguably the best resource is IATG
of foresight and planning can become a costly miscalculation: “In the process of 10.10, ‘Demilitarization and destruction of conventional
acquiring a stockpile, its future is often left unplanned. Stockpile destruction is ammunition’,which as other modules runs through three levels
an integral part of ammunition safety management. Fewer obsolete and expired of increasingly secure measures, and notes the importance
munitions in stock means less stock and less to worry about in terms of theft, acts of of transparency in carrying out destruction activities. The
sabotage or terrorism, fire in the store, or accidents to one’s own troops attempting module covers aspects, such as needed staff competencies,
to fire dangerous ammunition.”136
levels of priority for destroying different types of ammunition,
and the technical aspects of different technologies, including
Among the many ways governments dispose of their unwanted stockpiles (whether
seized, surplus, obsolete, or aging), preferred methods exist. For example, some
open burning, open detonation, and industrial demilitarization
countries still choose to sell (export or re-export) or gift surplus ammunition. However, (see below), in addition to topics on the management of these
“the sale or gift of surplus ammunition is strongly discouraged by much of the processes, including quality and environmental management.
international community because, in effect, it only transfers the problem elsewhere”.137 The technical annexes are particularly noteworthy, offering
Others may still engage in disposal practices that are either unacceptable or less detailed guidelines on procedures and principles for Open
than ideal from an environmental or human security perspective, such as deep-sea Burning and Open Detonation (OBOD) operations, schematic
dumping, landfill disposal (burying), or increased training use.138 Ultimately, while layouts for disposal sites, and management blueprints.
there are in theory and in historic practice many possibilities of disposal – or getting
rid of- of unwanted ammunition, the only methods that should be contemplated are UNLIREC has been particularly active in supporting the
indeed destruction or demilitarization. destruction of surplus ammunition in the region, particularly
using a self-designed, UNLIREC-patented (and then donated)
Of all the possibilities, undoubtedly, “international security concerns, international Small Arms Ammunition Burning Tank (SAABT), in addition
legislation, and practical considerations, however, indicate that the most effective to building local capacity through trainings and technical
option remains the physical destruction of ammunition”.139 How to physically ‘destroy’ support to ensure sustainable destruction capacity.

48 49
the ammunition remains a question, as a few different methods and approaches burning using a mobile incinerator, burning with fixed incinerator, and rotary kiln
(including ‘demilitarization’) exist.140 Importantly, given its explosive components, incineration). For each method, the Handbook defines desireable destruction
ammunition is more difficult to destroy than firearms, and “must be subject to specific methods for different situations, and identifies advantages and disadvantages of
methods of destruction, which depend on the amount to be disposed of and its each one, as well as needed equipment, personnel, infrastructure, methods (‘how
condition”.141 Of course, for most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, cost to’) and environmental impact.
considerations are important and may vary widely. According to one source, variation
goes from 90 to 800 US dollars per ton for small arms ammunition and from 540 to Some of these guidelines have been operationalized into best practices in the
1,000 US dollars for medium calibre rounds.142 Americas. For example, the OAS’ mobile destruction unit SEMAFORO (Sistema para
la Eliminación de Municiones y Armas de Fuego’ – Regional) could process more
In terms of guidelines, arguably the best resource is IATG 10.10, ‘Demilitarization than 100,000 cartridges of ammunition (up to 12.5 mm) a day using propane gas,
and destruction of conventional ammunition’,143 which as other modules runs and between 2007 and 2011 reportedly disposed of over 1,700 tons of ammunition
through three levels of increasingly secure measures, and notes the importance in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, with financial
of transparency in carrying out destruction activities. The module covers aspects assistance from Canada, Italy, Spain, and the USA.150 In Nicaragua, efforts included
such as needed staff competencies, levels of priority for destroying different types the destruction of more than 900 tons of surplus ammunition from the armed forces,
of ammunition, and the technical aspects of different technologies, including open in addition to clearance efforts around an abandoned military base, securing over 44
burning, open detonation, and industrial demilitarization (see below), in addition to hectares of munitions and unexploded ordnance in December 2010.151 In the case
topics on the management of these processes, including quality and environmental of Guatemala, programmes assisted by the OAS and the Golden West Foundation
management. The technical annexes are particularly noteworthy, offering detailed destroyed over 633 tons of ammunition between 2010 and 2011; perhaps - most
guidelines in procedures and principles for Open Burning and Open Detonation importantly - training and capacity building assisted in making the process sustainable
(OBOD) operations, schematic layouts for disposal sites, and management with a new agency for ammunition controls within the Inspectoría General.152
UNLIREC has been particularly active in supporting the destruction of surplus
The OSCE’s Best Practice Guide on the Destruction of Conventional Ammunition, ammunition in the region, particularly using a self-designed, UNLIREC-patented (and
developed by the Netherlands, likewise offers comprehensive advice, including then donated, Small Arms Ammunition Burning Tank (SAABT), in addition to building
“arguments in favour and against each process” for destruction, and attention to the local capacity with trainings and technical support to make destruction capability
environmental repercussions of any such activity.144 These guidelines are particularly sustainable.153 The aforementioned SOPs contain a series on SALW Destruction that
helpful in their didactic explanation of closed burning methods (See Annex 2 details the ‘how to’ of SAABT (03.60) and Open Burning and Open Detonation (03.80)
for pictures of ammunition destruction methods), such as rotary kiln furnaces Operations for ammunition.154 Destroyed small arms ammunition amounts include
(including mobile variants), fluidized bed incinerator, car bottom furnace, hot gas 2.2 tons in Guyana,155 0.2 tons in Suriname (October 2013),156 2.3 tons in the Bahamas
decontamination facility, and contained (or controlled) detonation chamber.145 A list (November 2012),157 one ton in Antigua and Barbuda (April 2013),158 0.6 tons in St.
of criteria is also suggested to assist in the evaluation of the best techniques to use.146 Kitts and Nevis (May 2013),159 1.9 tons in Barbados (May 2013),160 and 30 tons in the
Dominican Republic.161 In total, over 70 tons of ammunition have reportedly been
Another helpful document is the UN’s Report of the Secretary-General on ‘Methods destroyed in UNLIREC-assisted efforts since 2010, which have also included Ecuador,
of Destruction of Small Arms, Light Weapons, Ammunition and Explosives’ from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & Grenadines and Grenada.162
2000.147 Though not as up-to-date as the standards above (given that more modern
techniques have been published over the past 15 years), the report reminds to “ensure The series of destruction initiatives in the Dominican Republic between 2010 and 2013
that safety takes priority over speed and short cuts” and describes most destruction can be particularly highlighted as an instance of best practice, given its collaborative
methods – including open-pit and contained detonation, burning (open-pit and nature (with the Ministry of Defense) and its following the jointly-developed National
contained/incineration), chemical neutralization, burial on land, and firing – but Action Plan for Stockpile Management and Firearms and Ammunition Destruction
importantly already jettisons deep sea-dumping as an acceptable method.148 (part of a sub-regional effort that included 13 Caribbean nations). The UNLIREC
programme – made possible by a grant from the US State Department Office for
The Secretary General´s report spawned the UNODA Destruction Handbook,149 Weapons Removal and Abatement – provided both “permanent technical and human
which though more basic than the guidelines above, usefully summarizes methods resource capacity as well as infrastructure”, enabling, like its stockpile management
of destruction that may still be in use in some settings with limited resources (firing, component, the possibility of long-term locally-driven successful implementation of
burning in improvised incinerator, large-scale burning with improvised means, international standards.163

50 51
Figure 14 Finally, the disarmament components of the ongoing peace process in Colombia

Small Arms Ammunition Burning

are worth monitoring and analyzing for their ammunition disposal efforts, which
have reportedly already included the destruction of 1.76 million rounds.164 Given the

Tank Method circumstances, the UN Mission in Colombia and partners, including UNLIREC, have
been destroying ammunition mostly in incinerators,165 strict safety guidelines and
operational technical procedures are being implemented.166

Though at times treated as ‘state-of-the-art’, the demilitarization of small arms
ammunition by now – like some of the ‘innovative’ marking techniques discussed
– is quite a mature, well-known, and widely-used method. As described by the
aforementioned UN Secretary General report in 2000, demilitarization

“is a process whereby ammunition is stripped down to its component parts and
recycled, using as much of the material obtained as is economically feasible.
Ammunition factories are increasingly turning to demilitarization as a paying
service to customers for whom other methods are not practicable. Demilitarization
is a rapid method for disposing of large volumes of surplus ammunition. It is
environmentally friendly, provided that the plant is equipped with the elaborate
filters and scrubbers required to prevent the escape of toxic fumes. Metals are
reused as scrap and high explosive ammunition fillings can be converted into
explosives for industrial use. Propellants can be reused if chemically stable”.167

All things equal, demilitarization is generally the best option for ammunition disposal
whenever economies of scale justify the capital investment. The advantages relative
to other methods are multifold, including mechanical disassembly with machines
(“increasing operational efficiency and also reducing risk to personnel”), incineration
in environmentally controlled systems, and the “ability to operate 24 hours a day, up
to 365 days a year”.168 Perceived disadvantages are “the high costs of design, project
management, construction and commissioning”.169 Moreover, in terms of timing, “the
development of OBOD processes will take weeks to months, whilst the development
of industrial demilitarization processes can take months to years”, though this may
not need be a decisive factor for the long-term.170

The OBOD vs. demilitarization debate, however, is by no means resolved, and

generally revolves around environmental vis-à-vis operational and cost issues. In
some regions, some forms of destruction are prohibited on environmental grounds;
for example, due to “uncontrolled pollution” the “open detonation of large stocks
of ammunition is prohibited in most Western European countries”, while the “open
burning of ammunition containing smoke, flare, and dye or irritating agents is
forbidden in the USA and many other countries, because of the high concentrations
of hazardous products that are formed during the open burning”.171 Indeed, several
countries (such as Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden have banned OBOD if
alternative processes are available.172 Recently, OBOD “has fallen out of favour with
many demilitarization practitioners who consider it a source of uncontrolled soil,
groundwater, and air pollution. The public also views OB/OD in a negative light,
citing noise and vibrations, and claiming health risks as a result of the dispersion of

52 53
chemicals in the surrounding air and groundwater […]. OB/OD is considered wasteful former ammunition producers. R3 (‘recovery, recycling, and reuse’) may also “offset
of resources, since nothing can be recycled.”173 New research and tests, however, processing costs and thus reduce the overall cost of demilitarization” as reusing scrap
have shown that the environmental impacts of OBOD may not be as noxious as metal from casings such as “iron, steel, copper, brass, tin, lead, and tungsten are
previously assumed.174 valuable and can be recovered and recycled for commercial purposes”.182 Indeed,
recycling scrap metal is most beneficial, and, for some larger calibre ammunition, the
Regardless, many field practitioners consider OBOD “indispensable” in scenarios “returns from sales of scrap are reportedly similar to the total processing costs”; for
involving an “insufficient quantity to justify setting up an industrial production line; smaller calibres, “demilitarization will not generate revenue overall, but the use of R3
munitions that are not safe to move or safe to process industrially; surplus propellant can help reduce costs considerably”.183
and explosive materials that cannot easily be recycled or reused; munitions in countries
where logistics are poor and the shipping of large equipment is not cost-effective; In the IATGs, a measure of cost based on experiences in Western Europe suggests
and stockpiled munitions in-theatre following a conflict”.175 As such, the decision to a range from 101 to 529 euros per ton of small arms ammunition, though it recalls
use these methods in the ammunition destruction efforts following Colombia’s peace that “costs for lesser developed countries will be significantly less due to lower labour
agreement – or in smaller countries in the Caribbean – is entirely sensible. charges”.184 Moreover, “the greater the amounts of ammunition to be destroyed, the
larger are the economies of scale and therefore the wider range of affordable and
The most detailed recent study of the ammunition demilitarization sector found efficient technologies”.185
that the industry has roughly 30 major contractors highly-concentrated in Europe
and North America, especially in Germany and the US, and is therefore “generally Transportation of ammunition to be demilitarized (particularly cross-border) is complex
lacking in countries that need it most”.176 Nonetheless, at least one major example of and expensive, but successful best practices have included a major operation in 2010-
best practice comes from Latin America: CBC in Brazil conducts its own ‘in-house’ 2011 from an Asian country to Bulgaria, which followed all security requirements and
process, with machinery developed internally that automatically sort, disassemble, transportation standards for a total of 12,000 tons of ammunition.186 Thus, it should be
and separate all the components (cartridge, projectile, powder, etc.), which are then noted that while the sector in the US struggles to keep up with demand, “most NATO
either destroyed or recycled (metals, for instance, are melted and sold back in bulk). nations have underutilized industrial demilitarization capacity”187 and could potentially
The machinery can be used by external clients (such as the São Paulo Military Police, receive ammunition from Latin America and the Caribbean to be demilitarized, as
which reportedly sends roughly two truckloads of ammunition per month), and has could potentially CBC in Brazil.
a capacity to demilitarize 1.6 tons of cartridges (or 1.2 tons of projectiles) per day.274
CBC uses two distinct types of machines in the demilitarization process: four units Finally, sub-regions and political groupings in the hemisphere – such as CARICOM,
that strip/separate the components, and one that triturates them. Each separating SICA, Mercosur and UNASUR – could contemplate building and maintaining regional
unit can process 125kg of cartridges per day, and weighs about 150kg, while the demilitarization centers to receive all ammunition in need of disposal from member
triturating machine weighs about 1785kg and can process daily 3 tons of cartridges states, utilizing existing, yet inactive/underutilized former ammunition production
or 4.2 tons of projectiles. The joint maintenance costs for the five units runs at about plants and jointly reaping the financial, environmental and human security gains.
USD62,000 per year.178 As one interviewed expert noted, however, it is essential to reinvest the financial
proceedings from the process “to support the continuation of demilitarization actives
Some have argued that such programmes cannot be replicated elsewhere in the instead of back into the general budget”.188
Americas, particularly given the costs involved and the smaller volume of ammunition
processed in smaller countries. Undoubtedly, for some countries developing “purpose-
built demilitarization facilities” to destroy ammunition stockpiles “will be well beyond
available resources and therefore may not be a practical option. Factors such as low
ammunition stockpile levels, cost, location and safety may mean that OBOD is the
only pragmatic and feasible option”.179 Moreover, there is a known “global shortage of
qualified personnel experienced in developing ammunition demilitarization facilities
and programmes”.180

However, for medium to large nations in the region, the long-term costs may
be lessened: “the destruction of large stockpiles of ammunition in non-conflict
environments often requires the building of industrial demilitarization facilities, which,
once amortized, are more effective and less costly”.181 Moreover, demilitarization
in itself can be a profit-generating activity, with some specialists in the area being

54 55
Chapter 3: The use of automated systems has reduced the time required to search OCFs and
to establish links between shooting scenes and the identification of the responsible
Forensic Ballistics: How Generating firearms. The automated aspect of the process is the correlation; the acquisition,
filtering of possible hits, and confirmation of a link or identification still requires
Strategic and Tactical Intelligence can the manual input of trained personnel. The latter requiring the use of comparison
Assist Ammunition Control microscopy by a competent forensic firearms scientist.195, 196

In addition to marking/tracing of firearms and ammunition, together with stockpile

management/destruction, the area of forensic ballistics is vital in establishing
ammunition control protocols. The firearms forensic scientist is the last in the
forensic supply chain to adduce evidence. Typically, this is done after trace evidence,
such as DNA and fingerprint treatment and interpretation; it is the forensic firearms
scientist who can spot and collate developing trends in submissions of firearms and
ammunition and establish links between shooting scenes and identifications to the
guns responsible.

Analysis of spent cartridges and fired bullets, and in certain cases unfired cartridges
and discharged shotgun cartridge wads, can provide vital intelligence forming a IBIS Correlation Server
bridge between firearm violence and the identification of the conviction of the culprit. IBIS Data Concentrator

The same analysis can be performed in jurisdictions in which legally owned firearms
are subject to registration with test fired cartridges and bullets harvested from the
guns and held on a central database.189
In forensic ballistics, the early 1990s were a watershed, with ‘Drugfire’, a system
developed in the US under FBI direction that resulted in “a forensic imaging system
that allows investigators to compare ammunition markings from a specific shooting Reference Evidence 1 Reference Evidence 2
to databases of seemingly unrelated shootings”, through a “multimedia database
imaging system that automates the comparison of images of bullet cartridge cases,
shell casings and bullets”.190 Around the same time, a similar system was developed in
Canada by Forensic Technology Inc. and acquired by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS),191
which initially was not compatible with the Drugfire system but today has become
the most widely used system. IBIS has been adopted by Interpol in their Ballistics
Information Network (IBIN).192

The traditional ‘manual’ process involves the forensic firearms scientist using a
technique called comparison microscopy193 to screen test fired cartridge cases and
bullets from recovered firearms and those from crime scenes through an Open Case
file (OCF)194. Depending on the size of the OCF, this could be a lengthy process. The big
leap forward with the development of automated comparison systems, such as IBIS,
is that they can store high volumes of samples and carry out the correlation process
rapidly. Searching of remote digital OCFs, such as those in different jurisdictions or
other agency digital OCFs, can also be carried out rapidly.
Source: Ultra Electronics Forensic Technology

56 57
The use of automated comparison technology, just as the use of manual comparison manufacturer, because it “doesn’t require any licensing fees, over time ALIAS can end
microscopy, should be embedded within a Quality Management System framework up costing a third as much as a similar system”.202 Moreover, Pyramidal argues the
with audit and assurance metrics to minimise the risk of operator and equipment technology is supposedly superior, made to run faster (on Mac computers, UNIX)
error. and offering better 3D resolution, rendering “the most advanced yet cost-effective
ballistics analysis system on the market”203
In basic terms, an automated ballistic identification system works through three steps,
Acquisition, Correlation and Assessment. Other automated systems are also available e.g. Evofinder manufactured by ScanBI
Technology whose website states that it is installed in over 20 countries across the
In the case of IBIS, the process is as follows: world.204
1. the sample(s) are acquired, or loaded, onto the system by a competent person
using the Data Acquisition Station (DAS), the technical and metadata of the case However, it is noteworthy that the existing different systems are currently not
and the images of each of the marks on the selected bullet(s) and cartridge cases compatible, precluding law enforcement authorities from sharing information
are uploaded; electronically with entities using the competitor’s equipment. For example, in the
2. a ‘correlation is performed by the system, which results in the display of an ordered case of the aforementioned agency from the Dominican Republic, the Ballistics and
‘hit list’ of possible matches, the highest of which are then assessed with comparison Biometric Laboratory of the National Arms System (LABBS) has a different system
microscopy by a competent firearms examiner; than the Scientific Police, which uses IBIS, therefore necessitating the use of “double-
3. a ‘hit’ occurs when the ballistic expert confirms a match, using comparison casting” (see below) for ballistic comparison purposes.
microscopy, recording it as such in the system and reporting “it” to the appropriate
authorities. Regardless of the brand, the technology as a whole has matured and become
widespread in the hemisphere; by 2010, 63 IBIS labs already operated in Latin America
The success rate in finding hits is typically greater with cartridge cases than bullets, this and the Caribbean, in 14 countries or territories.205 Today, the majority of the countries
is because bullets can be severely damaged when they strike hard objects. However, in the hemisphere use at least one IBIS system,206 with several nations ‘joining the
the technology is improving all the time to deal with this. club’ in the last several years such as Peru (2012),207 Paraguay (2013),208 and Honduras
(2015).209 As of 2012, 87 sites operated in 22 countries in the region; among them,
IBIS models currently available include so-called 3D imaging, and older systems Mexico was by far the largest user with 47 sites – more than all the other Latin
referred to as 2D.197 According to a representative from Ultra Electronics Forensic American and Caribbean countries combined.210
Technology Inc. (the current manufacturer of IBIS), configurations are very flexible,
including systems with acquisition capacity for only cartridge cases or only bullets Already in mid-2014, Mexico had reportedly reached the mark of 3,000 ‘hits’
– or both; some options include servers, others do not and some use the Interpol between ballistic evidence and criminal cases at the Procuraduría General de la
server.198 Depending on the configurations, an IBIS system currently may be República (PGR), which at the time was receiving between 1,500 and 2,000 ballistic
purchased starting at U$150,000, while those with more complex capabilities may requests per month, processed by its 19 in-house forensic experts or its 104 across
cost up to U$1 million;199 the former probably being a better fit for most countries Mexico.211
in the Americas in terms of resources, needs, and priorities. It should be further
noted, however, that in addition to the equipment itself, it is essential that countries INTERNATIONAL GUIDELINES, STANDARDS, AND PRACTICES
prepare for long-term investment around them, not only in trained staff to operate In terms of international guidelines and standards, the most important efforts come
them, but also ongoing budget allocations for maintenance, continued licenses, from police organizations, particularly Interpol, which manages the IBIN.212 Of the
and other structural and IT needs to keep systems going and networked for optimal current 28 IBIN members, almost half are from Latin America and the Caribbean:
results. Investment is also needed for the development of a Quality Management Barbados, Belize, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru,
System. Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, and Colombia.213 Other nations should continue this
trend of the region’s prominence and consider joining as soon as possible.
Indeed, one interviewed expert from Central America noted that while IBIS is
widespread in the sub-region (reportedly only Nicaragua uses a different system), IBIN is a public-private association between Interpol and the system manufacturer,
many systems were donated by external actors and “licenses for the software are very with an IBIS Correlation Server located at Interpol’s headquarters in Lyon, France.
expensive for some governments, some of which have been forced to stop feeding IBIN is the “only large-scale international ballistic data sharing network in the world”,
the system because they were unable to purchase the licenses”.200 At least in the case which can allow “police to develop new investigative leads based on ballistic cross-
of one agency in the Dominican Republic, reportedly using the ALIAS from Pyramidal comparison and to find connections between separate crime scenes from different
Technologies,201 the system is operated using open (free) software; according to the countries that could have otherwise remained undetected”.214 While IBIS “has enabled

58 59
countries to detect links between previously unknown crimes on a national scale, ‘Double-casting’ is a two step-process that requires a silicone
IBIN allows police to detect these links in an international arena”.215 mould to be made with the recovered fired projectiles or cartridge
cases, and then making a resin cast using said mold. The resulting
However, in addition to its still fairly low participation among countries, IBIN’s microscopic quality resin replicas of projectiles and/or cartridge
parameters allow shared data for casings recovered in specific locations and cases can be uploaded to a ballistics information network
circumstances (including ‘within 80 kilometers of international borders’, ‘from and/or shared with judicial proceedings across jurisdictions
suspected traffickers’, ‘related to terrorist activities’ or ‘from persons with a residence
for comparison without affecting the chain of custody or
in another country’).216 This searching protocol optimizes the chances of a positive
correlation whilst not generating vast amounts of unnecessary work for the system
jeopardizing original evidence and circumventing bureaucratic
operators and firearms forensic scientists. hurdles. As such, ‘double-casting’ increases law enforcement’s
ability to make connections between crimes and crime scenes,
IBIN’s accompanying Handbook on the Collection and Sharing of Ballistics Data217 nationally and internationally.
- helpfully available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish –serves as an important
international document for forensic ballistics. Indeed, the Handbook is not only “a For example, since receiving training and equipment from
guide to getting involved with the programme, providing information on how to join UNLIREC, authorities from Belize have shared double casts
the network and maintain membership. Most importantly, this manual is a handbook with neighbouring Guatemala in a criminal proceeding where
on how to use IBIN, allowing users to operate the network at the highest level of the recovered firearm was marked with ‘GUA’. This allowed
potential”.218 authorities from Guatemala to upload the double cast to their
automated ballistics network and run a correlation against
It should be noted, however, that in addition to following a long list of requirements, ballistic fingerprints stored in their criminal records.
responsibilities and agreements, countries must have IBIS equipment to join IBIN
and up-to-date ‘Safeguard Extended Warranty and Protection Plan’ (i.e. license and
maintenance fee) to continue to access the system, therefore creating a prerequisite
that has significant costs, even if these are decreasing over the years.219 Still, “countries
that do not use IBIS technology or have different ballistic technology, can equally
benefit from the IBIN international ballistics data reserve by transmitting replica
moulds of the ballistic tests”.220 This technique, known as ‘double-casting’ or ‘ballistic
cloning’, renders “microscopic quality replica” from the ballistic evidence.221

‘Double-casting’ is a two step-process that replicas a silicone mould to be made

with the recovered fired projectiles or cartridge cases, and then making a resin cast
using said mould. The resulting microscopic quality resin replicas of projectiles and/
or cartridge cases can be uploaded to a ballistics information network and/or shared
with judicial proceedings across jurisdictions for comparison without affecting the
chain of custody or jeopardizing original evidence and circumventing bureaucratic
hurdles. As such, ‘double-casting’ increases law enforcement’s ability to make
connections between crimes and crime scenes, nationally and internationally. For
example, since receiving training and equipment from UNLIREC, authorities from
Belize have shared double casts with neighboring Guatemala in a criminal proceeding
where the recovered gun was marked with the ‘GUA’. This has allowed authorities
from Guatemala to upload the double cast to their automated ballistics network and
run a correlation against ballistic fingerprints stored in their criminal records.

The US’ National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), is “the only interstate
automated ballistic imaging network in operation in the United States and is available
to most major population centers in the United States”.222 Since 1999, the NIBIN system
has reportedly captured “approximately 2.8 million images of ballistic evidence and

60 61
confirmed more than 74,000 NIBIN hits, but the true performance metric of NIBIN data and increase the efficiency of investigations and significantly improve the
is the successful arrest and prosecution of shooters”.223 Success stories in bridging conviction rates of persons”.232 Reportedly, upon request, Caribbean nations may also
forensic and the conviction of criminals are multiple across the US,224 and at least one “join parts of the NIBIN network”.233 Connected with Interpol’s IBIN servers initially
study has found the use of IBIS to be “effective”.225 As a comparison, the US (including through Barbados, Belize and Jamaica, RIBIN has also been relevant to CARICOM
Puerto Rico) has almost half of all the IBIS sites in the entire world,226 in addition IMPACS (Implementation Agency for Crime and Security),234 which delivered has
to mobile units, such as the ATF van recently brought to tackle a surge of firearm- provided some capacity-building workshops on operational aspects, such as Quality
related homicides in Baltimore.227 Despite this reported success,228 however, the US Management Systems (QMS) for forensic laboratories.235
has seen many critiques regarding NIBIN, though most of them focus on the system
being underutilized, particularly given lack of manpower and proper investment, as Sub-regional efforts have also been strengthened by UNLIREC´s Caribbean Operational
encapsulated in a recent headline: ‘This Machine Could Prevent Gun Violence - If Forensic Ballistics Assistance Package, a programme supported by Canada and the
Only Cops Used It”.229 USA to provide a range of improvements, including infrastructure, technology, and
knowledge to eight States in the region. Related efforts have the donation of an IBIS
The UK has a similar integrated national system operated by the National Ballistics BulletTraxTM system for Jamaica and basic forensic ballistics equipment to all project
Intelligence Service.230 beneficiary States, refurbishing an indoor shooting range at the Trinidad and Tobago
Forensic Science Centre, designing two containerized shooting ranges for their
REGIONAL AND SUB-REGIONAL PRACTICES consequent donation, and assisting other States with their own refurbishment efforts.236
Best practices elsewhere in the Americas, the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico
(as aforementioned) are in relative terms active hubs of ballistics efforts, “having given In addition, UNLIREC has carried out baseline assessments and developed technical
due importance to the theme of forensic ballistics and information”, in the words of recommendations with expert advice for all participating States, donated nine sets
one interviewed expert.231 An example of such prioritization was the establishment, of double-casting equipment and provided technical training on their use based
in 2014, of RIBIN (Regional Integrated Ballistic Information Network) to, at least in on the Interpol-developed methodology, implemented two shooting incident
theory, “enable CARICOM Member States to capture, analyse and share ballistic reconstruction courses and five Firearms and Ammunition Evidence Management
Courses, carried out competency testing activities and collaborative exercises with
all eight States, organized several regional forensic ballistic encounters and seminars
with representatives from across the Caribbean and Central America, created an
online hub for information sharing in partnership with the Caribbean Basin Security
Initiative (CBSI)-Connect and delivered nine webinars available to all participating
States, developed 17 Standardized Operating Procedures (SOPs), and trained all
participating States on their use to improve and establish an overarching QMS for
forensic ballistics laboratories, including health and safety measures. In the next
phase of the project, UNLIREC aims to help States to reduce backlogs in forensic
ballistics, plan for succession planning, create OCFs where absent, develop better
intelligence-generating mechanisms to fight impunity in firearms-related crimes,
facilitate inter-institutional coordination to better prosecute offenders and carry
out criminal proceedings, and continue to deliver training to strengthen forensic
examiners competencies and institutional capacities.

One of the technical courses on forensic ballistics matters is the Firearms and
Ammunition Evidence Management Course (EMC), which brings together national
justice and law enforcement participants, including public prosecutors, firearms
examiners, forensic laboratory personnel, evidence technicians, scenes of crimes
and intelligence police officers and covers, for instance, ‘Examination and Analysis
of Ballistic Evidence in the Laboratory’(Module 5) and ‘Intelligence and Investigation
Tools’ (Module 6). Module 5 provides detailed information on comparison microscopy,
but also for what it calls Automated Ballistic Identification Systems, which - in addition
to IBIS - include systems used in Russia, Eastern Europe, Turkey and the systems
SOURCE: UNLIREC ‘Evofinder’ and ALIAS. Finally, the Module explains how to create an expert report in

62 63
forensic ballistics, how to perform as a ballistics expert in court, and how to develop
a Forensic Ballistics Strategy.

A particular interesting case refers to Barbados and other Eastern Caribbean nations
based on field observations from UNLIREC in 2017. Barbados assists Eastern Caribbean
States, on request, with ballistic evidence examination and analysis with its IBIS system,
conducted by the Firearms Examiners Unit of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF),
though the “current relationship… appears ad hoc, with no fixed documented system in
place”.237 The study found that assistance is often governed by financial cycles, as states
send casework to Barbados “in bulk, towards the end of the financial year, when funds are
available”.238 The case study concludes that “a formal memorandum of understanding
is required between states that submit either physical evidence or double-casts and the
uploading ABIS State [in this case, Barbados]. Where states have trained and competent
firearms examiners and comparison microscopy facilities, but no ABIS, a physical OCF
should be created to enable real time intelligence to be generated”.239

The use of automated systems used by competent forensic firearms scientists coupled
with mechanisms and protocols, which allow for the rapid dissemination of intelligence
to relevant stakeholders can only improve a jurisdiction’s response in tackling firearm-
related crime.

In addition to any automated system, physical well organized OCFs need to be in

place to facilitate the rapid determination of crime scene links and the identification
of the responsible firearm.

It is essential to acknowledge that the role of the firearms forensic scientist is not
simply to produce evidence. The provision of intelligence is of equal importance,
not only to inform investigators, but also to provide a strategic overview to policy
makers. Forensic ballistics intelligence goes further than the simple ability to link
firearms to shooting scenes, it can provide a pivotal role in the ability to spot and
flag up developing trends, such as the use of new types of firearms, ammunition
and their modus operandi. All of this can provide insight into the use, distribution and
prevalence of specific firearms and ammunition.

Single points of contact should be encouraged within forensic firearms facilities to

collate information on links and developing trends. As well, protocols need to be in
place for the sharing of this information.

Effective intelligence leads not only to convictions, but also creates broader
intelligence for law enforcement and judicial authorities enabling pro-active and not
reactive responses to be developed.

Left unanalyzed for patterns and trends, forensic ballistic data will not provide the
broader picture of the criminal proliferation and trafficking of firearms and ammunition.
This huge potential, will not be fully realized without the investment of political and
financial capital into the necessary human and physical resources, which is yet to
occur in many countries in the Americas.240

64 65
35. INDUMIL’s ammunition products catalogue available from
1. A/54/155, p.10. uploads/2016/03/Catalogo_general.pdf. See ammunition starting from p.50.
2. Ibid, pp.10-11. 36.
3. Available from 37. Katherine Aguirre y Jorge A. Restrepo, Marcaje y Rastreo de Munición: Indumil en Colombia.
4. Available from and Available from
Project%20Documents/Small%20Arms%20and%20Light%20Weapons.pdf. pdf
5. Available from 38. Ibid.
6. Firearms Act, CAP. 179 (1998). Available from 39. Ibid.
pdf. 40. In 2013, movement towards a very similar requirement for ammunition marking was put forth in
7. Estatuto do Desarmamento, Lei No. 10.826 (2003). Available from Belgium. Flemish Peace Institute, Advice concerning ammunition marking.
leis/2003/L10.826compilado.htm. 41. The technology was developed by CBC with the assistance of Belgian company EDB Engineering.
8. Ley de Armas y Explosivos, Ley 7530 (1995). Available For a full description, see Martinot and Berkol, The Traceability of Ammunition, p.20 and pp.21-23.
PoANationalReports/2016@48@2016%20-%20PoA%20-%20Costa%20Rica%20-%20S.pdf. 42. Pablo Dreyfus, “Crime and Ammunition Procurement: The Case of Brazil” in Targeting Ammunition:
9. Decreto-Ley No. 262, 2008, Sobre Armas y Municiones. Available from A Primer, Stéphanie Pézard and Holger Anders, eds. (Geneva, Switzerland, Small Arms Survey, 2006),
CASACountryProfile/PoANationalReports/2017@51@2017%20-%20PoA%20-%20Cuba%20-%20S.pdf pp.192-194. Available from
10. ammunition/SAS-Targeting-Ammunition-Book.pdf.
11. Ley No. 4.036 de Armas de Fuego, sus Piezas y Componentes, Municiones, Explosivos, 43. Sou da Paz, Implementacao do estatuto do desarmamento, p.94.
Accesorios y Afines (2010). Available from 44. Ammunition lots, particularly for the military market, can run as high as 500,000 rounds.
LeyArmasFuegoPiezasComponentesMunicionesExplosivosAccesoriosAfinesLeyN4036_2010.pdf. 45. Ministério da Defesa, Norma Reguladora da Marcação de Embalagens e Cartuchos de Munição
12. Ley de Armas de Fuego, Municiones, Explosivos, Productos Pirotécnicos y Materiales Relacionados (2004). Available from
de Uso Civil, No. 30299 (2015). Available from de_28Dez04.pdf.
LEY_ARMAS_EXPLOSIVOS_PIROTECNICOS_30299.pdf. See also: 46. Anders, “Following the Lethal Trail”, p.213.For the information demanded by Brazilian authorities,
fuego-conoce-cambios-trae-reglamento-232938. see Article 6 of the Norma Reguladora da Marcação de Embalagens e Cartuchos de Munição.
13. Firearms Act, Act 44 of 1970, Chap. 16:01 (1971). Available from 47. Martinot and Berkol, The Traceability of Ammunition, p.13.
Alphabetical_List/lawspdfs/16.01.pdf. 48. Small Arms Survey, Ammunition Marking, p.9.
14. A next step is to set the detailed technical and administrative regulations that bridge the law and 49. Dreyfus, “Crime and Ammunition Procurement”, p.177.
the real world. For the case of Brazil, see: 50. Author´s visit to CBC, Ribeirão Pires, São Paulo, December 2017.
nivel/470-municao. 51. Ibid.
15. For a detailed discussion of the gaps between ‘paper and practice’ after six years of the law’s 52. Fenavist, Movimentação das Empresas do Segmento, Boletim Estatístico, May 2015. Available from
promulgation, see: Sou da Paz, Implementacao do estatuto do desarmamento: do papel para a práticaístico_Maio_2015.pdf The data provided by this
(2010). Available from trade group is available by State and region, showing some distortions such as the Northeast, where armed
desarmamento_do_papel_para_a_pr_tica_1.pdf. violence levels have increased, receiving a majority of the ammunition (554,766 rounds), while the most
16. For an explanation of how the system was foreseen, see Associacao Nacional dos Peritos populous region (Southeast, which includes Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo) received 152,437 rounds in May
Criminais Federais, Balística Forense: Governo quer controlar as armas no Brasil, Perícia Federal, No 1, 2015 (last available month).
September-October 2003. Available from, For a discussion 53. Dreyfus, “Crime and Ammunition Procurement”, p.191.
of the obstacles that have precluded its realization, see Sou da Paz, , Implementacao do estatuto do 54. UNLIREC, Balas Perdidas II: Análisis de Casos de Balas Perdidas Reportados en Medios de
desarmamento, pp.135-136. Comunicación en América Latina y el Caribe (2014 – 2015) (2016), p.11. Available from
17. Multinational Small Arms and Ammunition Group, “The Issue of Conventional Ammunition”. Documents/Balas_Perdidas.pdf.
18. Pierre Martinot and Ilhan Berkol, The Traceability of Ammunition, Les Rapport du GRIP, 2008/9, 55. Instituto Sou da Paz, Arsenal Fluminense: Análise das Apreensoes de municoes no estado do Rio de
p.9-10. Available from See Janeiro (2014-2017). Available from
pages 11-12 for most common symbols, markings and colors used (including on packaging). no_rio_de_janeiro_isdp.pdf.
19. Though this obviously does not include ammunition produced under Warsaw Pact standards. 56. Of the large apprehension operations reported, the only one mentioning the manufacturer was
20. NATO, The Identification of Ammunition, AOP-2(C) (2008). Available from a seizure of 3,492 9mm rounds also from CBC; while they were reportedly found with a trafficker and a
pdf/NATO%20AOP-2(C),%20Identification%20of%20Ammunition.pdf military policeman, the ammunition did not have lot markings, suggesting it would not have come from
21. Small Arms Survey, Ammunition Marking, p.3. the security forces. Ibid, p.25.
22. Small Arms Survey, Targeting Ammunition, p. 210. Available from 57. Ibid, p. 24.
fileadmin/docs/D-Book-series/book-03-targeting-ammunition/SAS-Targeting-Ammunition-Book.pdf 58. Ibid, p. 24
23. Chilean marking available from 59. See, for example, Marco Antônio Martins, “PRF apreendeu, em seis meses, 40,6 mil munições nas
24. Further information available from estradas do RJ”, Globo, 16 January 2018. Available from
25. Official document available from prf-apreendeu-em-seis-meses-406-mil-municoes-nas-estradas-do-rj.ghtml; and Célia Costa e Gabriela
homologation-19-01-2011_4e734403f068b_en.pdf. Viana, “Homem é preso com 12 fuzis, 33 pistolas e 25 mil projéteis que levaria para a Maré”, Globo, 26
26. For a view of different manufacturer’s markings, see February 2018. Available from
27. Available from 33-pistolas-25-mil-projeteis-que-levaria-para-mare-22434079.html.
28. Anders, “Following the Lethal Trail”, p.210. 60. Instituto Sou da Paz, Arsenal Fluminense, p.26. Available from
29. Small Arms Survey, Ammunition Marking, p.2. pdf/an_lise_das_muni_es_apreendidas_no_rio_de_janeiro_isdp.pdf
30. UNLIREC, Aportes Técnicos para la Marcación de Armas de Fuego y Municiones (El Salvador), April 61. Ibid
2013. Full text available from UNLIREC upon request. 62. Author´s visit to CBC, Ribeirão Pires, São Paulo, December 2017.
31. Ibid. 63. UNLIREC, Profiling Ammunition Seized at Border Controls and Recovered from Crime Scenes
32. UNLIREC, “Propuesta Técnica para la Marcación de Municiones” (Argentina), September 2013, p. 13. Across Latin America and the Caribbean. Briefing Paper 1: The Dominican Case Study and Methodology
Full text available from UNLIREC upon request. (2018) Available upon request.
33. Ibid. 64. Anders, “Following the Lethal Trail”, p.218.

66 67
65. Ibid. 105. Ibid., p.50.
66. These include issuance and expiration date of licenses and authorizations, point of departure and 106. NATO, Manual of NATO Safety Principles for the Storage of Military Ammunition and Explosives,
arrival, identification of countries of import and transit, identification of final recipient and end-user, delivery Allied Ammunition Storage and Transport Publication 1, May 2010. Available from
date, classification, description and quantity of the shipment and broker information. Available from www. pdfs/AASTP-1-Ed1-Chge-3-Public-Release-110810.pdf 107. Wilkinson, “Stockpile Management of Ammunition”, p.235. See also, for transport safety, www.
67. Ibid.
68. OSCE, OSCE Handbook of Best Practices on Conventional Ammunition, p.6. 108. UN SaferGuard International Ammunition Technical Guidelines available from
69. Ibid, p. 8 and 9. “Also very helpful is Small Arms Survey’s Ammunition tracing kit - Protocols and disarmament/un-saferguard/guide-lines/.
procedures for recording small-calibre ammunition (2008). Available from 109. The Ammunition Safety Management Toolset is available from
fileadmin/docs/D-Book-series/book-06-ATK/SAS-Ammunition-Tracing-Kit.pdf. publications/detail/publication/ammunition-safety-management-asm-toolset/.
70. Ibid. 110. Available from
71. Matt Schroeder, “New technologies and small arms control: Preventing unauthorized acquisition cards/PSSMcards_2015ed_POR_WEB.pdf.
and use” in Behind the Curve: New Technologies, New Control Challenges, Benjamin King and Glenn 111. Available from
McDonald, eds. (Small Arms Survey, Geneva, 2015), p.86. cards/PSSMcards_2015ed_SPA_WEB.pdf.
72. Ibid., p.87. 112. Available from
73. For a detailed discussion, see Small Arms Survey, Ammunition Marking, p.10. cards/PSSMcards_2015ed_FRE_WEB.pdf.
74. Ibid., p. 10. 113. Full text available from UNLIREC upon request.
75., page 50. 114. See, for example, UNLIREC Newsletter, No 18, January-June 2015. Available from http://unlirec.
76. Small Arms Survey, Ammunition Marking, p.10. org/force_download.aspx?file=bol_51_Newsletter_N_18_ENG.pdf.
77. See, for example, and / 115. UNLIREC Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), available from sops.pdf.
78. Small Arms Survey, Ammunition Marking, p.10. 116. Small Arms Survey, Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS): Excess Stockpiles as Liabilities
79. Ibid., p.2. rather than Assets, Eric G. Berman and Pilar Reina, eds. (Geneva, 2014), pp. 14 and 143-145. Available from
80. UNLIREC, Propuesta Técnica para la Marcación de Municiones Argentina, (2013), p. 13. Full text
available from UNLIREC upon request. full.pdf.
81. Total CBC investment was USD1.5 million for 15 machines, which take about a month to install. 117. Ibid., p.22.
Email communication with CBC officials, February 2018. At least in the European market, laser-marking 118. Dreyfus, “Crime and Ammunition Procurement”, p.174.
equipment has been noted to cost as much as USD100,000, but as little as USD18,700 depending on the 119. Mike Bourne and Ilhan Berkol, “Deadly Diversions: Illicit Transfers of Ammunition for Small Arms
technical specifications. Schroeder, “New technologies and small arms control”, p.77. and Light Weapons” in Targeting Ammunition: A Primer, Stéphanie Pézard and Holger Anders, eds. (Geneva,
82. In Brazilian reais, R$30,000. Switzerland, Small Arms Survey, 2006), p. 126.. Available from
83. Author´s visit to CBC, Ribeirão Pires, São Paulo, December 2017. D-Book-series/book-03-targeting-ammunition/SAS-Targeting-Ammunition-Book.pdf.
84. Author´s email communication with CBC officials, February 2018. 120. Small Arms Survey, Targeting Ammunition, p.104
85. Ibid. 121. Dreyfus, “Crime and Ammunition Procurement”, p.180.
86. Ibid. 122. Marsh & Dube, Preventing Diversion, p.6.
87. Matt Schroeder, “New technologies and small arms control”, p.79. 123. Bourne and Berkol, “Deadly Diversions”, p.124. For further reading, see also Eric Berman and
88. Ibid., p.23. Benjamin King, (2017) “Promoting Secure Stockpiles and Countering Diversion”, Journal of Conventional
89. Small Arms Survey, Targeting Ammunition, p.47. Weapons Destruction, Vol. 21 : Iss. 3 , Article 5 (2017). Available from
90. Ibid., p.39. For ‘light’ weapons, or generally ‘weapons of war’, other developments are underway, journal/vol21/iss3/5.
including ‘airburst munitions’ and electronically-initiated fire. 124. Author´s email communication, December 2017.
91. Anders, “Following the Lethal Trail”, p.216. 125. Ibid.
92. Martinot and Berkol, The Traceability of Ammunition, p.5. 126. Ibid.
93. UN SaferGuard, Guide to the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG), p.2. 127. Author´s email communication, December 2017.
94. Keep the Safety On, Bonn International Center for Conversion. Video available from 128. Ibid.
com/watch?v=gMKQWMLdcgg . 129. The ‘national emergency’ Law 26.216,; and Marsh & Dube, Preventing Diversion, pp.5-6.
95. Wilkinson, “Stockpile Management of Ammunition”, p.230. 130. Ibid., p.6.
96. Paunila, “Good Practice in Physical Security and Stockpile Management”. 131.
97. Author´s email communication, December 2017. 132.
98. Small Arms Survey, Targeting Ammunition, p. 230. Available from http://www.smallarmssurvey. 133. Ibid. Interestingly, El Salvador is the only nation from the Americas mentioned among the 16
org/fileadmin/docs/D-Book-series/book-03-targeting-ammunition/SAS-Targeting-Ammunition-Book. countries with recent MAG operations, while Colombia was the only among 25 countries that saw past
pdf operations, though focused exclusively on landmines. See, for example, http://archive.maginternational.
99. Paunila, “Good Practice in Physical Security and Stockpile Management”. org/where-we-work/. For MAG´s efforts in Colombia, see
100. South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, work/where-mag-works/past-operations/#Colombia.
Ammunition and Explosives Storage and Safety, RMDS/G 05.40, 4th ed. (2006). Available from www.seesac. 134. US Department of State Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, 2014 To Walk the Earth in Safety: Latin
org/f/docs/Standards-RMDSG/RMDS-05.40-Ammunition-Storage-Edition-4.pdf. America, Report, 30 September 2014. Available from
101. See, for example, Small Arms Survey, “Less ‘Bang’ for the Buck: Stockpile Management in South-East htm.
Europe” in Small Arms Survey 2015: Weapons and the World (2016). Available fromwww.smallarmssurvey. 135. Ibid.
org/fileadmin/docs/A-Yearbook/2015/eng/Small-Arms-Survey-2015-Chapter-05-EN.pdf. 136. Paunila, “Good Practice in Physical Security and Stockpile Management”.
102. Nicholas Marsh & Gugu Dube, Preventing Diversion: The Importance of Stockpile 137. Adrian Wilkinson, “The Three Ds: Disposal, Demilitarization, and Destruction of Ammunition” in
Management, PRIO Paper (Prio, Oslo, 2014), p.12. Available from Targeting Ammunition: A Primer, Stéphanie Pézard and Holger Anders, eds. (Geneva, Switzerland, Small
ashx?id=363&type=publicationfile. Arms Survey, 2006), p.268. Available from
103. OSCE Handbook of Best Practices on Conventional Ammunition, p.17. book-03-targeting-ammunition/SAS-Targeting-Ammunition-Book.pdf.
104. Ibid., p.41. 138. For description and pros and cons of each method, see UN SaferGuard, Guide to the International

68 69
Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG), p.2. For the toxic environmental impacts of these methods, see 176. Ibid., p.187.
OSCE, OSCE Handbook of Best Practices on Conventional Ammunition, p.148. 177. Author´s visit to CBC, Ribeirão Pires, São Paulo, December 2017.
139. Wilkinson, “The Three Ds”. 178. In Brazilian reais, R$200,000/year. Author´s email communication with CBC officials, February
140. For a summary of ammunition destruction technologies, see Wilkinson, “The Three Ds”, pp. 278- 2018.
282. For examples of ammunition destruction projects (with costs), see pp. 284-286. 179. UN SaferGuard, International Ammunition Technical Guideline, p.9.
141. Ibid., p.262. 180. UN SaferGuard, Guide to the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG), p.5.
142. Wilkinson, “Stockpile Management of Ammunition”, p.237. See footnote 20 for the Paraguayan 181. Small Arms Survey, “Burning the Bullet “, p.207.
case. 182. Ibid., p.198.
143. UN SaferGuard, International Ammunition Technical Guideline. 183. Ibid., p.210.
144. OSCE, OSCE Handbook of Best Practices on Conventional Ammunition, p.147. 184. UN SaferGuard, International Ammunition Technical Guideline, p.16.
145. Ibid., pp.150-153. 185. OSCE, OSCE Handbook of Best Practices on Conventional Ammunition, p.145. .
146. Ibid., p.160. 186. Ibid., p.200.
147. 187. Ibid., p.199.
148. Ibid, p. 17. 188. Author´s email communication, December 2017.
149. UNODA, A Destruction Handbook – small arms, light weapons, ammunition and explosives 189. It should be noted that the real world application of the creation of databases from legally held
(2001). Available from See pp.25- firearmshas been criticized, in some cases even deemed a complete “failure”. Erin Cox, “Mary-land scraps
42 for specific guidelines on small arms ammunition. gun “fingerprint” database after 15 failed years”, Baltimore Sun, 7 November 2015. Available fromwww.
150. Small Arms Survey, Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS), p.77.
151. The Organization of American States, Disminuyendo la Amenaza de Armas y Munición en las 190. Ronald Roach, “Drugfire and IBIS help lawmen fight bad guys”, Washington Business Journal, 19
Américas. Available from May 1997. Available from
152. GICHD, Programa de Destrucción de Armas Cortas, Ligeras y Municiones de la OEA: Accion 191.
contra las minas y reducción de la violencia armada: Guatemala, Caso de Estudio (2012), p.12. Available 192.
from Network-IBIN
153.; and 193. A comparison microscope is ssentially two microscopes connected to an optical bridge which
destroys-firearms-and-small-arms-ammunitions-in-guyana. allows the viewer to observe two objects simultaneously with the same degree of magnification. This
154. UNLIREC Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The modules include, respectively: Terms and instrument can have a monocular or binocular eyepiece. May also be referred to as a comparison
definitions/General/SAABT design/Ammunition types authorized for burning/Safety/SAA destruction macroscope.
operations/Ammunition accounting guidance (loose rounds); and Terms and definitions/General/Priorities 194. An OCF consists of an organised collection of live cartridge cases, fired cartridge cases, fired
and principles/Authority for disposal/Persons authorized to carry out disposals/Methods of local disposal – bullets and shotgun wads, recovered from the scenes of firearms related crime that can be linked to other
general/Siting of disposal sites/Approval of disposals sites and SOPs/Planning and preparation/Conduct of ammunition components or guns to determine a link or evidence of the previous use of a gun in crime.
disposals. SOPs are available from UNLIREC upon request. 195. UNLIREC Evidence Management Course Module 5, p. 30. Full text available from UNLIREC upon
155. request.
156. 196. UNLIREC Evidence Management Course Module 6, p. 24. Full text available from UNLIREC upon
157. request.
158. 197.
159. 198. Author´s email communication with Regional Sales Director, Ultra Electronics Forensic Tech-
160. nology Inc., 16 January 2018.
161. 199. Ibid.
162. Luke Musetti, Scrapping the Surplus: IANSA Side Event (2017). Available from 200. Author´s email communication, December 2017.
nonviolenceny/scrapping-the-surplus-iansa-side-event-b6e0ac8e2255. 201.
163. Likewise, the UNDP – which in Bosnia used a containerized Transportable Ammunition Destruction 202. Drew Johnson, A leap forward in forensic ballistics technology, 9 November 2010. Available from
System (TADS) – has conducted ammunition destruction projects in Central America and other parts of
Latin America through its country offices. 203.
164. 204.
armament; and “ONU inicia destrucción de municiones de las Farc, Semana, 7 July 2017. Available from 205. At the time, the following coun-tries had the technology (with the number of laboratories in brackets): Brazil (6), Colombia (6), Chile, Curaçao,
zonas-veredales/531648. Ecuador (8), El Salvador (5), Honduras (2), Jamaica (5), Mexico (19), Panama, Puerto Rico (2), Dominican
165. Republic (3), Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela (3).
meldung_002_pm_mission_kolumbien.html 206. See map at . Holdouts include Uruguay, Bolivia, Su-
166. 263. For a video of destruction process, see For newest riname, Guyana and Nicaragua. For a view of the equipment and processes used during an IBIS investigation,
developments, see Technische Hilfswerk, THW supports civil monitoring mission in Columbia, Press release see: . For the corporate video, see:
(29 March 2017). Available from watch?v=Eb9GAeo413w .
167., p. 17. 207. “Inauguran Sistema de Identificación Balística más moderno del mundo”, La Republica, Lima,
168. Greene, “Introduction”, p.9; and Wilkinson, “The Three Ds”, p.262. Peru, 23 October 2012. Available from
169. UN SaferGuard, International Ammunition Technical Guideline, p.9. identificacion-balistica-mas-moderno-del-mundo .
170. Ibid., p.15. 208. El sistema IBIS, de Identificación Balística, ya opera en sede policial, 8 April 2013. Available from
171. OSCE, OSCE Handbook of Best Practices on Conventional Ammunition, p.149.ón-balística-
172. Josh Wilkinson and Duncan Watt, Review of Demilitarization and Disposal Techniques for Munitions ya-opera-en-sede-policial.
and Related Materials, NATO (2006). Available from 209. “Sistema IBIS y registro balístico garantizarán combate a la impunidad”, El Heraldo, Tegucigal-pa,
173. Small Arms Survey, “Burning the Bullet “, p.206-207. Honduras, 23 June 2015. Available from
174. Ibid., p.208. bal%C3%ADstico-garantizar%C3%A1n-combate-a-la-impunidad
175. Ibid., p.208. 210. For some of the forensic ballistic efforts in Mexico, see XXXIII Sesión Consejo Nacional de Seguridad

70 71
Pública, Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública (2012). Available from www.secretariadoejecutivo.gob. media-center/communications/news-from-the-community/caricom-ballistics-tracking-system-to-
mx/work/models/SecretariadoEjecutivo/Resource/1065/1/images/8_Acuerdo_para_consolidar_la_ help-cut-case-backlog.
base_de_datos_de_huella_balistica_de_las_armas_asignadas_a_las_instituciones_de_seguridad.pdf ; 233. UNLIREC Evidence Management Course Module 6, p. 8
”Laboratorio de Balística es el primero con sistema IBIS en México, El Universal, Mexico, 15 August 2012. 234.
Availble from 235. One such workshop, hosted by UNLIREC, IMPACS and Trinidad and Tobago in December 2016
es-el-primero-con-sistema-ibis-en-mexico ; and included participants from “Permanent Secretaries, Directors of Civilian Forensic Laborato-ries, Heads of
balistica-y-el-sistema-ibis. Police Crime Laboratories, Senior Firearms Examiners and other policy personnel from: Antigua and Barbuda,
211. Julia Ramírez, “PGR utiliza equipo de balística al estilo ‘CSI’”, Excelsior, Mexico City, 22 June Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Domini-can Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica,
2014. Available from ; and Suriname, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, and Trinidad and Tobago”.
iL1UjonMWUM. Portals/0/Project%20Documents/Regional%20Integrated%20Ballistic%20Information%20Network%20
212. RIBIN.pdf. See also
IBIN 236.
213. Though the last three countries are currently pending connection: 237. UNLIREC Evidence Management Course Module 6, pp. 30-32. Full text available from UNLI-REC
Crime-areas/Firearms/Ibin/IBIN-countries. upon request.
214. 238. Ibid.
IBIN 239. Ibid.
215. IBIN: Interpol Ballistics Information Network: Handbook on the collection and sharing of 240. For a cautionary tale from the US, see Beth Schwartzapel, “This Machine Could Prevent Gun
ballistics data, Interpol Firearms Programme, 3rd ed. (2014), p.14. Available from Violence”.
216. Ibid.
217. Ibid.
218. Ibid., p.8.
219. In 1995, Boston purchased an IBIS system for over $540,000, though the equipment cost $295,000
in 2003. :
220. UNLIREC Evidence Management Course Module 5, p. 31. Full text available from UNLIREC upon
221. Ibid. UNLIREC has also developed, based on the Interpol methodology, a detailed Standardized
Operating Procedure (SOP) on double casting, which is available as an Annex to EMC Module 6 and it is
available upon request
network Current numbers for the existing more than 500 stations in 70 countries worldwide are reportedly
close to 4 million exhibits and 109,000 hits using IBIS.
224. For examples, see:
225. “With an increase in cold hits after the system implementation.”
ProgramDetails.aspx?ID=164 . For the 2005 audit of NIBIN’s opera-tions to that point, see The Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives´ National In-tegrated Ballistic Information Network Program,
U.S. Department of Justice, Audit Report 05-30, June 2015. Available from
ATF/a0530/final.pdf ; and for the 2013 assessment seeOpening the Black Box of NIBIN: A descriptive
process and outcome eval-uation of the use of NIBIN and its effects on criminal investigations, Wiliam King
et al. (2013). Available from
226. 128 (ATF) + 45 (local police forces) = 173 IBIS sites in the US, against a total of 364 world-wide.
UNLIREC, Evidence Management Course Module 5, Table 2, pp. 55-56. Full text avail-able from UNLIREC
upon request.
227. Luke Broadwater and Justin Fenton, “With murders skyrocketing in Baltimore, feds begin sending
help” in Baltimore Sun, 1May 2017. Available from
bs-md-ci-atf-crime-20170501-story.html ; and Andrew Shepperson, “ATF brings ballistics van to Baltimore
after murder rate surges” in Baltimore Sun, 3 May 2017. Available from
brings-ballistics-van-to-baltimore-after-murder-rate-surges/ .
228. Luke Broadwater, “Baltimore police say they’re clearing more shootings, homicides” in Balti-
more Sun, 2 May 2017. Available from
20170502-story.html .
229. Beth Schwartzapel, “This Machine Could Prevent Gun Violence — If Only Cops Used It, 10
June 2016. Available from
violence-if-only-cops-used-it ; and Ann Givens, “Ballistics Imaging Helped Phoenix Police Solve 9 Fatal
Shootings. Why Don’t More Departments Make Better Use of It?” 26 January 2018. Available from www.
231. Author´s email communication, December 2017
Ballistic%20Information%20Network%20RIBIN.pdf. For RIBIN’s Leadership Board, see

72 73

The Way Forward

Conducting a gap analysis on ammunition controls – sketching a contrast between
current practices in Latin America and the Caribbean and international best practices
– leads to the conclusion that the region has its work cut out for it, and still has a ways
to go until reaching optimal levels on themes, such as marking, tracing, stockpile
management, destruction, and forensic ballistics, to name a few covered by this paper.
The gap, however, is less dramatic than it may appear, as a few feasible changes, from
political attention to investment to policy choices in the said areas, could bridge these
differences in relatively short order.

As discussed, these changes are not impossible neither from a technical nor a financial
standpoint. While ideal best practices, as implemented in parts of North America or
northern Europe, may still realistically be out of reach in terms of technology or costs,
both the “how to” and the “how much” of most standards and innovations discussed
herein are feasible and within reach for most countries in the region. Where the gap
may be more of a chasm, focused support from the international community and
foreign donors would - in all cases - allow for bringing practices and infrastructure
up to basic international standards (think Level 1 of IATGs, for instance, if not Level 3).

As noted, what is often perceived as state-of-the-art innovations using complex,

expensive technologies – such as cartridge laser-marking or demilitarization of
ammunition – are actually quite mature, well-known, and widely-used methods that
are common in other sectors. Accordingly, the costs of said innovations are often
less than assumed, and have decreased in recent years, even if strictly on a financial
basis. However, a proper calculation of all costs (and risks) involved, including not
only financial aspects and not only on the short-term, makes innovative technologies
probably cheaper than their traditional counterparts.

Economies of scale can be created by international cooperation as well; for example,

a group of nations in a sub-region may collaborate and pool resources to develop a
hub for ammunition demilitarization they can all benefit from but that none can afford
or justify individually. Finally, as ultimately dealing with human lives and dangerous
materials, saving pennies may result in losing millions. For example, an ammunition
explosion in Bharatpur (India) in April 2000, “resulted in an estimated ammunition
stock loss of USD 90 million”,1 in addition to its human and environmental impacts,
which we would argue must also be included in the calculation. Amazingly, “the
explosion was the result of a fire at the ammunition depot, which was exacerbated by
excessive vegetation. Ironically, the grass had not been cut for two years as a cost-
saving measure”.2

74 75
In terms of policy prescriptions, a first important step is to disaggregate the distinct worlds; as per one Caribbean expert interviewed: “we should begin to shift the
commonly-used term “SALW and their ammunition”; in operational aspects, such a way we discuss and identify solutions to a more inclusive approach instead of working
conflation absconds four different phenomena that – while full of similarities – are by in silos […] Representatives not just from the political level but also technical (forensic
no means exactly the same, and thus need specific policies to tackle them. In some experts, firearms experts), law enforcement and regulators all have a very important
ways, ammunition for light weapons shares more characteristics with munitions for contribution to make in developing initiatives and recommending legislation and
conventional weapons and military explosives than with its smaller counterparts. policies for better ammunition control based on their experience at different levels”;
The following recommendations, therefore, refer solely to the category small arms
ammunition, and intend to be implementable and cost-effective to implement, often • “Continue to further political interest and promote the active implementation of
being political decisions or simple measures that do not require extensive financial regional and sub-regional agreements pertaining to ammunition, particularly
investments. CIFTA, in light of the “Declaration of Mexico” which commemorates the Twentieth
Anniversary of the CIFTA and reaffirms the importance of the Convention and its
implementation, as well as this year’s IV Conference of State Parties and its resulting
Recommendations for Latin American “Course of Action 2018-2022” for CIFTA’s operation and implementation, which
includes commitments and measures to strengthen marking, tracing and stockpile
and Caribbean Governments: management, among others”;9

POLITICS AND DIPLOMACY • Ensure that a proper national normative framework for ammunition controls exists,
• Invest political capital in the creation of global political will for greater ammunition reflects current best practices, and is duly implemented. In other words, States are
controls, in recognition that the Americas suffer disproportionate harm from lax encouraged not to limit their actions to having relevant legislation in place, but
international regulations and practices; rather recognize ammunition controls an an ongoing, long-term and daily labour;

• Consider pushing for the creation of new international instruments – and/or plugging • Install a culture of restraint when it comes to all aspects of ammunition: whether
the holes in the ones that already exist, but have omitted ammunition controls: for production, export, stockpiling or use, “as little as possible” should determine a
--In the buildup to, and during, the June 2018 PoA RevCon3, make a concerted effort nation’s approach to small arms ammunition; avoiding particularly a situation where
to remedy the obvious anomaly of the instrument’s omission of ammunition;3 economic interests surpass and undermine human security imperatives;
--Recall that the 2005 United Nations General Assembly's promise that ammunition
would “be addressed in a comprehensive manner as part of a separate process • Tackle ammunition diversion from government stockpiles as an urgent priority,
conducted within the framework of the United Nations” has not yet been particularly the management measures that depend on staff, training, procedures
fulfilled;4 and stamping out corruption and opportunities for diversion, duly investing in the
--Consider the urgent need for a comprehensive and ambitious approach to training of ammunition control experts, national curricula, and certified experts on
ammunition controls, which could include an international, legally-binding aspects, such as ammunition destruction; and
instrument for the full life-cycle of ammunition (from production to destruction),
including mandatory universal standards for marking, record-keeping, tracing, • Increase transparency in the sector, through practice and regulation, as it is not
robust stockpile management, surplus definition, and destruction, inter alia; and only the production and trade in ammunition that is particularly opaque worlwide,
--Support, while rendering more germane to Latin America and the Caribbean (and but also the availability and exchange of information vis-a-vis national ammunition
thus more comprehensive), diplomatic proposals attempting to pave new avenues controls, rules, and procedures.
in ammunition controls at the UN, such as Germany’s proposal to convene a new
Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on ammunition in 2020.5
• Fully implement obligations and commitments regarding ammunition under MARKING, TRACING AND DIVERSION PREVENTION
existing international instruments, including the Firearms Protocol6 and the Arms • Determine and ensure that all ammunition – both cartridges and packages –
Trade Treaty;7 produced (particularly by State-owned factories), imported, and stockpiled, is duly
marked and recorded;
• Ensure Whole-of-Government Approach to ammunition control discussions
and decision-making, ending the separation between those who participate in • Determine and ensure lot marking on ammunition cartridges also for the civilian
international fora and those charged with implementing norms nationally as if two market, so that all cartridges manufactured in (or imported to) Latin America and

76 77
the Caribbean be marked with a lot number and an identification number on the • Install normative and/or policy directives entirely banning the practices of re-export,
smallest packaging unit, regardless if for the military or civilian market; gifting, or dumping of ammunition, on environmental and human security grounds.
If a State produces or procures ammunition, it is ultimately responsible for its safe
• Engage in systematic tracing efforts, nationally and internationally, both using and sound destruction;15 and
available tools and innovations most helpful in precluding diversion and considering
that “an international standard to improve the ability of states to trace the initial • Demilitarize ammunition and recycle components whenever disposal options
transfer of ammunition produced under contract with a state actor could make a permit, rendering it obligatory for all countries that produce ammunition, particularly
considerable contribution to combating illicit ammunition flows” ;10 in State-owned factories.

• For ammunition producing countries: FORENSIC BALLISTICS

--Strive to join international instances of quality control and proofing, such as the • Aim to harmonise Automated Ballistic Identification System acquisition and searching
Permanent International Commission for Firearms Testing (CIP)11 or others, as protocols in the region, focusing on cooperation across jurisdictions. Setting up of
appropriate; 12 sub-regional Centre of Excellence where evidence could be processed for multiple
--Regardless of production volume, consider using laser-marking technology for member states should be contemplated as a way forward;
cartridges, in order to ensure and gain the ability to carry out post-production lot
marking in all cases; and • Nations that already have IBIS stations should continue the region’s prominence in
--Strictly regulate and create norms for the use of new materials (particularly the international IBIN (Interpol) network and join as soon as possible;
polymers) and technologies in ammunition development and production.
• Effective intelligence leads not only to convictions, but also creates broader
PHYSICAL SECURITY AND DESTRUCTION OF STOCKPILES intelligence for law enforcement and judicial authorities enabling pro-active and
• Duly implement the IATGs seeking to reach Level 3 standards as feasible, but not reactive responses. Establishing and optimising the use of double-casting, the
ensuring Level 1 compliance as a minimum requirement of basic governance and collation of small arms submission trends and developments and the effective
State responsibility; searching of physical and digital Open Case Files will enhance the provison of both
tactical and strategic intelligence; and
• All states in the region that have not yet done so should conclude the online self-
assessment to estimate risk of their stockpiles, the Risk Reduction Process Level • This huge potential will not be fully realized without the investment of political and
(RRPL) from UN SafeGuard ( financial capital into the necessary human and physical resources.
reduction-process-levels/) and take all resulting necessary measures;

• Commit - at the highest political and budgetary levels - never to cut corners on
stockpile safety, earmarking proper infrastructure and personnel resources as an Recommendations for Sub-Regional
investment in human security with financial dividends, rather than simply as a sunk
and Regional Bodies:
• Sub-regions and political groupings in the hemisphere – such as CARICOM, SICA,
• Consider taking up and championing a proposal made by the Peace Research Mercosur, Andean Community, and UNASUR – should consider building and
Institute Oslo (PRIO) to enhance the current “patchwork of existing agreements” maintaining regional Centre of Excellence for aspects of ammunition controls, such
with an “informal international process on stockpile management”, designed “to as demilitarization, forensic ballistics and marking/tracing, in addition to instituting
better coordinate those governments and organizations interested in stockpile secretariats or coordinating instances for international cooperation, including
management, and to encourage greater participation among those that have not annual regional conferences for ammunition control authorities and experts, which
focused upon the issue already”;13 can “help develop and maintain contacts and foster relationships”, as noted by one
interviewed expert;
• Urgently define, account and destroy all surplus ammunition stockpiles, recognizing
that while “States procure more conventional ammunition than they use”,14 • Revitalize instruments, processes, and engagement in small arms ammunition
once ammunition has been produced, imported, or confiscated, it is the State’s controls, also as a potential spark for other aspects of SALW control that have
responsibility (particularly of the judicial system when ammunition is apprehended) remained relatively dormant in recent years (see CIFTA/OAS recommendation
to ensure it cannot harm its citizens in accidents or as a result of diversion. As such, above); such re-engagement may include reviewing “long ago developed
the most dangerous or vulnerable stocks must be prioritized;

78 79
best-practice guidelines […] in light of new international measures, such as the NOTES
International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG)”,16 in addition to ensuring that
1. Explosive Remnants of War (ERW): Undesired Explosive Events in Ammunition Storage Areas. Geneva:
the best guidelines and standards worldwide are available in all languages germane GICHD, 2002, p. 12 Available from
to the hemisphere; and 2. Wilkinson, “Stockpile Management of Ammunition”, p.242.
3. Wood and Robinson, “The Programme of Action on Small Arms”.
4. OEWG report, UNGA, 2005, para. 27, “Report of the Open-ended Working Group to Negotiate an
• Consider that an aforementioned new global instrument “does not have to International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small
necessarily emerge – at least originally – from the UN. In fact, the avenue of a Arms and Light Weapons. A/60/88 of 27 June. Available from
regional or sub-regional cornerstone, to be joined later by other regional ‘building 5. Official Records of the General Assembly, Seventy-Second Session, A/RES/72/55. Available from www.
blocks’ is also feasible.”17 6. For a comprehensive guide and model legislation “designed primarily to assist States in their
implementation of the Firearms Protocol”, see Model Law against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in
Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (Vienna
2011). Available from
Recommendations for the UN System 7. For guidelines and support for national implementation of the ATT abound, see for example Arms
Trade Treaty Implementation Toolkit: Module 1, UNODA. Available from

and Donor Countries: web/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/2015-09-04-Toolkit-all-10-modules-FINAL.pdf; Mark Bromley and

Alfredo Malaret, ATT-related Activities in Latin America and the Caribbean: Identifying gaps and improving
coordination, SIPRI Background Paper, February 2017. Available from /
• Provide for the urgent translation of the IATGs into Spanish; en/; The Arms Trade Treaty: A Practical Guide toNational Implementation, Sarah Parker, ed. (Small Arms Survey,
Geneva, 2016). Available from
• Politically prioritise stockpile management and ammunition destruction in Latin ATT-implementation.pdf;;; and www.armedviolencereduction.
America and the Caribbean; 8. Implementing the Arms Trade Treaty and the UNPoA: A Guide to Coordinating an Effective Arms Control
System, Centre for Armed Violence Reduction. Available from
• Drastically increase funding for ammunition controls in the region, duly demanding aspx; Tlatelolco Commitment, Second Conference of the States Party to CIFTA, Mexico, 20-21 February 2008.
Available from
national ownership and commitment at the highest possible level to programme de%20Tlatelolco/doc%207%20rev%202%20Compromiso%20de%20Tlatelolco%20eng%20cifta00431e06.
and policy sustainability as a quid pro quo; doc; and
10. Anders, “Following the Lethal Trail”, p.216.
• Significantly increase investment particularly in destruction programmes, 11. CIP Membership Procedure available from
recognizing that “there are currently insufficient donor resources to make more 12.
than a small dent in the global stockpile of ammunition that needs to be disposed 13. Marsh and Dube, Preventing Diversion.
14. Small Arms Survey, “Burning the Bullet “, p.187.
of”;18 and 15. For a detailed summary of the widespread and risky international trade in surplus ammunition, see:
• Seek a low-cost technological solution to integrate laser-marking for cartridges in 16. Further information available from
(State-owned) factories with a lesser level of production automatization. 17. Mack, “Guns Don’t Kill People, Bullets Do”, p.100.
18. Wilkinson, “Stockpile Management of Ammunition”, p.261.

Recommendations for Civil Society:

• Fully re-engage and prioritise the issue of ammunition controls, independent of
whether it is in a political or diplomatic forum, or low or high level of a governmental
forum (local, national, regional, or global). In the absence of determined,
knowledgeable, and strategic action by civil society organisations in the region, the
recommendations above may face unsurmountable obstacles from economic and
political pressures, or simply from the power of inertia and the status quo.

80 81

Annex 1

IBIS Use Across the Americas

(Adapted from Table 2, UNLIREC EMC Module 5)

Year Number
Country Agency
Acquired of Sites

Argentina Policia Federal Argentina 2011 1

Bahamas Royal Bahamas Police Force 2013 1
Barbados Royal Barbados Police Force 2012 1
Belize National Forensic Science Service 2012 1
Brazil Secretaría de Segurança Pública de Espirito 2001 1
Instituto de Criminalística Carlos Éboli 2002 1
Instituto de Criminalística Afrânio Peixoto 2007 1
Chile Policía de Investigaciones de Chile 2003 2
Carabineros de Chile 2014 1
Colombia Fiscalía General de la Nación 2000 2
Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad 2001 1
Instituto de Medicina Legal 2001 2
Policía Nacional DIJIN 2001 1
Costa Rica Organismo de Investigación Judicial 2012 1
Curacao Curaçao Police Force 2005 1
Dominican Policía Nacional 2007 1
Ecuador Policía Nacional del Ecuador 2009 2
El Salvador Policía Nacional Civil 2007 1
Ministerio de la Defensa Nacional 2008 1
Guatemala Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Forenses 2010 1
Policia Nacional 2011 1
Direccion General de Control de Armas y 2011 1

Municiones (DI-GECAM)
Honduras Honduras National Police 2009 1
Ministerio Publico 2013 1

82 83
Jamaica Jamaican Constabulary Force 2006 1 Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2012 1
Firearms Licensing Authority 2006 1 de Jalisco
Mexico Procuraduría General de Justicia del Distrito 2000 1 Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2012 1
Federal de Zacatecas
Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) 2003 11 Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2012 1
Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado 2008 1 de Campeche
de Nuevo León Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2012 1
Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado 2009 1 de Hidalgo
de México Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2012 1
Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado 2009 2 de Sinaloa
de Chihuahua Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2012 1
Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado 2009 1 de Guerrero
de Nayarit Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2012 1
Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado 2009 1 de Puebla
de Tamaulipas Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2013 1
Secretaría de Seguridad Pública 2009 1 de Veracruz
Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado 2010 1 Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2013 1
de Aguascalientes de Tlaxcala
Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2010 1 Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2013 1
de Baja Cali-fornia de Morelos
Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2010 1 Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2013 1
de Durango de Coahuila
Procuraduria General de Justicial del Estado 2011 1 Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2014 1
de San Luis Potosi de Oaxaca
Policia Federal Mexicana 2011 1 Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2015 1
de Colima
Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2011 1
de Guanajuato Panama Policía Técnica Judicial 2006 1
Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2012 1 Paraguay Policia Nacional 2013 1
de Queretaro Peru Policia Nacional 2012 3
Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2012 2 Trinidad & Forensic Science Center, Ministry of National 2004 1
de Sonora Tobago Security
Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2012 1 Venezuela Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales 1998 3
de Baja Cali-fornia Sur y Criminalís-ticas (CICPC)
Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2012 1 Compañía Anónima Venezolana de Industrias 2006 1
de Yucatan Militares (CAVIM)
Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2012 1 Total Number of IBIS Sites – Latin America and the 87
de Michoacán de Ocampo Caribbean
Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2012 2
de Chiapas
Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado 2012 1
de Quintana Roo

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Annex 2

Ammunition Destruction Methods

Small Arms Ammunition ‘Burning Tank’ (SAABT) Field Expedient Method


86 87
Annex 3

Legally Binding International

Open Burning Open Detonation (OBOD)
Instruments on Conventional
Weapons (ATT - CIFTA - PAF) Status
of Ratification in Latin America and
The Caribbean

1 Antigua and Barbuda ✓ ✓ ✓

2 Argentina ✓ ✓ ✓
3 Bahamas ✓ ✓ ✓
4 Barbados ✓ ✓ ✓
5 Belize ✓ ✓ *
6 Bolivia * ✓ *
7 Brazil * ✓ ✓
8 Chile * ✓ ✓
9 Colombia * ✓ *
10 Costa Rica ✓ ✓ ✓
11 Cuba * ✓ ✓
12 Dominican Republic ✓ ✓ ✓
13 Dominica * ✓ ✓
14 Ecuador ✓ ✓ ✓
Source: UNLIREC 15 El Salvador ✓ ✓ ✓
16 Grenada ✓ ✓ ✓
17 Guatemala ✓ ✓ ✓
18 Guyana * ✓ ✓
19 Haití * ✓ ✓
20 Honduras ✓ * ✓
21 Jamaica ✓ ✓ ✓
22 México ✓ ✓ ✓

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23 Nicaragua ✓ ✓ ✓ Annex 4
24 Panamá ✓ ✓ ✓ Compendium of UNLIREC Stockpile
✓ ✓ ✓
Perú ✓ ✓ ✓
Management and Destruction Tools
27 Saint Lucia ✓ ✓ * Over the past decade UNLIREC has developed a series of practical tools to assist
28 San Vincent and the Grenadines ✓ ✓ ✓ States to enhance the physical safety and security of their weapons, ammunition and
explosive stockpiles, to carry out destruction processes, and undertake secondary
29 St. Kitts and Nevis ✓ ✓ ✓ marking, inventory management and maintenance of registers.
30 Suriname * ✓ *
31 Trinidad and Tobago ✓ ✓ ✓ UNLIREC’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and technical briefing notes for
stockpile management and destruction of small arms and light weapons (SALW),
32 Uruguay ✓ ✓ ✓
ammunition and explosives have been designed and developed to assist States in
33 Venezuela * ✓ ✓ their compliance with international agreements and norms, while providing them
with specific guidance that can be easily adapted to their own administrative and
Note: The International Tracing Instrument (ITI) is a politically binding instrument and operational systems. These tools are based on and incorporate the International
an important reference for the effective implementation of the ATT. UNSCR 1540 is a Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS) and UNSaferGuard Programme’s International
legally binding instrument for all United Nations member states. Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATGs). To date, UNLIREC’s technical assistance,
accompaniment and training have been implemented and integrated in 18 countries
ATT (2014) Arms Trade Treaty in Latin America and the Caribbean. UNLIREC SOPs include:
CIFTA (1997) Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and
Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related SERIES 01 – SALW INVENTORY MANAGEMENT
Material 01.10 Accounting (Terms and definitions/General/Classification of weapons/National
PAF (2001) Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking weapons register(s)/Unit weapons register/Daily issue and receipt of weapons/Loss
in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, or recovery of weapons/Destruction of weapons)
supplementing the United Nations Convention against
Transnational Organized Crime 01.20 Surplus Weapons (Terms and definitions/Identification of surplus weapons/
Storage of surplus weapons/Accounting for surplus weapons)

01.30 Unique Secondary Marking (Terms and definitions/Background/Technical

Committee (weapon marking)/National marking authority/Marking requirements/

01.40 Storage - Weapons (Terms and definitions/General Basic storage requirements/

Weapons storage locations/Weapon storage racks)

01.50 Storage – Small Arms Ammunition (Terms and definitions/General/ Basic

storage requirements/ Weapons storage locations/ Small unit ammunition storage
requirements/ Magazine infrastructure/Recovered ammunition and explosives)

01.60 Inspection of SALW Facilities (Terms and definitions/General/ Stockpile

management of weapons/ Stockpile management of small arms ammunition (SAA)

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01.70 Handling and Safety (Terms and definitions/General/General safety 03.40A Destruction Operations - Chop Saw (Terms and definitions/General/
precautions (weapons)/ Normal safety precautions (NSP) (weapons)/ Actions on Physical destruction processes)
accidents or incidents)
03.40B Destruction Operations – Industrial Rotary Kiln Furnace (Terms and
01.80 Job Descriptions Summary (Terms and definitions/General/Key appointments/ definitions/General/ Physical destruction processes)
Supplements to job descriptions)
03.50 Disposal of Waste (Terms and definitions/General/Types of waste/Waste
01.90 Staff Training (Terms and definitions/General/Trained staff) metals/Waste wood/Waste plastic/Emissions to air/Waste water/Prohibition of deep
sea dumping)
02.10 Risk Management (Terms and definitions/General/Risk management 03.60 Small Arms Ammunition Burning Tank (SAABT) Operations (Terms and
responsibilities/Concept of risk and threat/Stockpile risk assessment/Risk analysis) definitions/General/SAABT design/ Ammunition types authorized for burning/Safety/
SAA destruction operations/Ammunition accounting guidance (loose rounds)
02.20 Security (Terms and definitions/General/Security responsibilities/ Security
threat/Protective security measures/Physical security measures/Inventory security/ 03.65 SALW Destruction (Field Expedient SAA and Pyrotechnic Destruction
Security education/Security during destruction/Reporting of losses and investigations/ Techniques by Burning) (Terms and definitions/General/System design/ Ammunition
Action on activation of alarms) and pyrotechnic types authorized for burning/Safety/Destruction operations/
Ammunition accounting guidance (loose rounds)
02.25 Security – Small Arms Ammunition (Terms and definitions/General/ Security
responsibilities/ Security threat/ Stockpile risk assessment/ Protective security 03.70 Pyrotechnic Burning Tank (PBT) Operations (Terms and definitions/
measures/ Physical security measures/ Inventory security/ Security education/ General/PBT design/Ammunition types authorized for burning/Safety/Pyrotechnic
Security during destruction/ Reporting of losses and investigations/ Action on and propellant destruction operations)
activation of alarms)
03.75 Light Ammunition Burning Tank (LABT) Operations (Terms and definitions/
02.30 Transport – Weapons (Terms and definitions /General security requirements/ General/LABT design/Ammunition types authorized for burning/Safety/Destruction
Specific transport requirements/Documentation/Reporting of losses and operations)
investigations/ Instructions for drivers and security escorts)
03.80A Open Burning and Open Detonation Operations (Ammunition) (Terms and
02.40 Transport – Small Arms Ammunition (Terms and definitions /General definitions/General/Priorities and principles/Authority for disposal/Persons authorized
security requirements/Specific transport requirements/Documentation/Reporting of to carry out disposals/Methods of local disposal – general/Siting of disposal sites/
losses and investigations/Instructions for drivers and security escorts) Approval of disposals sites and SOPs/Planning and preparation/Conduct of disposals)

SERIES 03 – SALW DESTRUCTION 03.80B Ammunition Disposal Operations at Disposal Site (Purpose/Scope/Terms
03.10 Destruction Planning (Terms and definitions/General/Planning sequence/ and definitions/ Regulatory references/ Responsibilities/Authorised methods of
Destruction planning activities) disposal/ Design and use of demolition pits/ Design and use of burning / Incineration
areas and trenches/ Explosive limits at the site/ Misfire waiting times/ Communications
03.20 Handling and Safety (Terms and definitions/General/ General safety requirements/ Medical arrangements/Firefighting arrangements/ Personnel limits/
precautions (weapons)/Normal safety precautions (NSP) (weapons)/Safety precautions Clothing and personal protective Equipment (PPE)/ Meteorological conditions/
(destruction equipment)/Actions on accidents or incidents) Contraband/ Eating and drinking/ Vehicle routes/ Segregation of loads/ Unloading
and parking/ Sentries/ Accident procedures/ Reporting and recording/ Free From
03.30 Actions on Accidents (Terms and definitions/General/ Accident procedures/ Explosives (FFE)
Investigation of accident/Classification of accident)
03.90 Independent Monitoring and Verification
(Terms and definitions/Scope/General/Authority/Monitoring/Verification)

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03.95 Ammunition Disposal / Demolition Planning and Conduction OBOD PSSM Physical Security and Stockpile Management
Operations - Demolition Orders (Conduct and planning of operations for OBOD QMS Quality Management System
on demolition and burning grounds/ Terms and definitions/ Regulatory references/ RASR Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction
Authorised methods of disposal/ Warning of demolition or burning (warning order)/ RFID Radio Frequency Identification
Preparation & planning OBOD operations/ Specimen demolition order/ Orders for RIBIN Regional Integrated Ballistic Information Network
the OIC (demolitions/disposals) RIFC Regional Intelligence Fusion Centre
RRPL Risk Reduction Process Level
UNLIREC TBN 2011/01: Determination of Surplus Weapon Stocks SEMAFORO Sistema para la Eliminación de Municiones y Armas de Fuego – Regional
UNLIREC TBN 2011/02: Small Arms Ammunition – Loss of Batch Key Identity SIP Sistema de Identificação Personalizada de Munições
UNLIREC TBN 2011/03: National Explosives Inspectorate - Role and Responsibilities SOP Standard Operating Procedures
UNLIREC TBN 2011/04: Civilian Storage of Fireworks/Pyrotechnics UEM Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites
UNLIREC TBN 2011/05: Surplus Ammunition UN PoA United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons
UNLIREC TBN 2011/06: Disposal of Irritants and Riot Control Agents (RCA) UN-ASAP United Nations Ammunition Safety Assistance Program
UNLIREC TBN 2011/07: Operational and Confiscated Weapons Management UNLIREC United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development
UNLIREC TBN 2012/08: Deactivation of Firearms in Latin America and the Caribbean
UNODA United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs
AASTP Ammunition Storage and Transportation Publication
AOP Allied Ordnance Publication
ATT Arms Trade Treaty
CARICOM IMPACS CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security
CBSI Caribbean Basin Security Initiative
CICAD Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission
CIFTA Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking
in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials
CIP Permanent International Commission for Firearms Testing
DAER Daily Ammunition Expenditure Rate
DAS Data Acquisition Station
EMC Firearms and Ammunition Evidence Management Course
GGE Group of Governmental Experts
GICHD Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining
GTAFM Working Group on Firearms and Ammunition
IATG International Ammunition Technical Guidelines
IBIN Interpol Ballistics Information Network
IBIS Integrated Ballistics Identification System
ITI International Tracing Instrument
LABBS Ballistics and Biometric Laboratory of the National Arms System
MAG Mines Advisory Group
NATO STANAG North Atlantic Treaty Alliace Standardization Agreement
NIBIN the United States’ National Integrated Ballistic Information Network
OAS Organization of American States
OBOD Open Burning and Open Detonation
OCF Open Case Files or Outstanding Crime File

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United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development
in Latin America and the Caribbean

Lima, Peru.

With the financial support of the Government of Germany