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From: Ambassador Isam

Making a Tough Job more Difficult: The Loss of Arms and Ammunition in Peace Operations

Making a Tough Job more Difficult: The Loss of Arms and Ammunition in Peace Operations

This Report highlights results of research into the loss of arms and ammunition in a range of peace operations. Losses include assault rifles and pistols, armoured vehicles and numerous types of light weapons that in aggregate represent thousands of weapons and millions of rounds of ammunition.

Making a Tough Job More Difficult focuses on United Nations- and regional organization-led peace operations. The materiel is lost in a variety of ways and settings—described in the report. Some loss of arms and ammunition in peace operations is inevitable given the challenges peacekeepers face in conflict and post-conflict settings. The report shows, however, that considerable quantities of arms and ammunition are lost or redistributed due to less-than-best practice and poor oversight. It also finds that the UN’s system for managing and controlling the movement of contingent-owned equipment provides the framework for weapons and ammunition management but that greater access to the policies, procedures, and guidelines of both UN and non-UN peace operations would improve understanding of existing control measures and the gaps in these controls.

Selected key findings:

  • The loss of arms and ammunition in peace operations is a global and pervasive problem, affecting missions across geographical regions, functioning in different threat environments, and involving many troop- and police-contributing countries (TCCs/PCCs). The Survey’s previous estimate of losses from peace operations in Sudan and South significantly underestimated the scale and scope of the losses incurred during these missions.
  • More than a dozen organizations apart from the UN undertake peace operations. Oversight of the lethal materiel deployed during many of these missions is negligible or non-existent.
  • Even the UN has no institutionalized oversight of arms and ammunition recovered outside of formal weapons recovery programmes. The materiel recovered through patrolling, cordon and search operations, or as a result of embargo implementation or other mandate implementation measures can be sizeable.
  • Peacekeepers are susceptible to losing equipment during the course of everyday activities, such as patrols and escort duties, but also during resupply operations, troop rotations, or repatriation.
  • The system through which the UN manages COE provides a framework for rigorously controlling arms and ammunition during peace operations. However, the establishment of uniformly robust controls on the storage and transport of these items is hindered by numerous budgetary, logistical, and infrastructural constraints; shortages in staffing and expertise; and gaps in UN policies and procedures.


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