James Bevan
Weapon specialist and conflict analyst
James Bevan
Ammunition Management, 2007-2008

The availability of Eastern European surplus weapons and ammunition was one of the driving forces intensifying the rash of destructive conflicts that gripped Africa in the 1990s; conflicts that continue to shape today's politics. By consequence, the issue is still one that dominates thinking on contemporary dynamics of arms transfers to the world's conflict regions.

Surplus ammunition is only one part of this problem, but the increasing number of catastrophic explosions at weapon storage facilities worldwide indicates that the storage, handling, and destruction of ammunition (whether surplus or otherwise) poses more problems than the management of weapons. There is growing consensus that the mismanagement of ammunition needs to be considered as a threat to public safety and to international peace and security in its own right.

Following my work tracing weapons and ammunition in East Africa, the German Government requested that I assist it in its efforts to raise the visibility of conventional ammunition on the international stage. As a senior researcher for the Small Arms Survey, I edited Conventional Ammunition in Surplus; a reference guide designed  to assist international policy makers in addressing the complex issue of ammunition mismanagement.

The reference guide was designed to support the 2008 United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Conventional Ammunition in Surplus; a diplomatic process in which I was Special Adviser to the Chair. The reference guide helped shape the work of the GGE and is replicated almost verbatim in several sections of the GGE's final report.

The GGE report, and by extension the reference guide, informed the development of the United Nations Guidelines on the Management of Conventional Ammunition, whose basic content and structure I later drafted for the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs in late 2008.

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