The Small Arms Survey is an independent research project located at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. It serves as the principal international source of public information on all aspects of small arms and armed violence and as a resource for governments, policy-makers, researchers, and activists. The project has an international staff with expertise in security studies, political science, international public policy, law, economics, development studies, conflict resolution, criminology, and sociology. The staff works closely with a worldwide network of researchers and partners.
The proliferation of small arms and light weapons represents a grave threat to human security. The unchecked spread of these weapons has exacerbated inter- and intra-state conflicts, contributed to human rights violations, undermined political and economic development, destabilized communities, and devastated the lives of millions of people. The future success of efforts to deal with small arms and light weapons depends in large part on the development of accurate information concerning the global flow of these weapons and on reliable analyses of the causes and consequences of their proliferation.
Effective governmental or non-governmental action depends on a correct diagnosis of the problem, yet policy-makers, analysts, and activists around the world often lack basic information concerning the production, transfer, stockpiling, and use of small arms and light weapons. The strengths and weaknesses of various policy instruments (such as gun buy-back schemes, strengthening of export controls, codes of conduct, firearms, or ammunition marking) also need to be assessed on an ongoing basis so that best practices can be disseminated from region to region.
Recognizing the need to address these complex issues, the Swiss government, in conjunction with other interested governments, established the Small Arms Survey project in 1999. Administered and produced in Geneva by a small, dedicated team, the work of the project is targeted at the widest possible audience of researchers, policy-makers, governments, and activists. It uses its location in Geneva and its international network of partners to foster broad-ranging understanding and in-depth research on small arms and armed violence