Modern weapons and military equipment cannot be made or maintained without parts and components that are sourced and traded around the world. Without regulating this trade alongside the trade in complete weapons, it will be impossible to reduce the impact of irresponsible arms transfers on human rights, security, and development. Between 2008 and 2011, the global trade in parts and components was worth at least $9.7bn. This vast stockpile of weapons parts ranged from high-end components for aircraft to parts for small arms and light weapons. Weapons are assembled from components sourced from all corners of the world – frequently from countries without any effective arms transfer controls.
Without global regulation of the trade in parts and components, it will be impossible to effectively regulate any part of the arms trade, as companies will be able to circumvent the rules by shipping weapons in pieces from multiple countries around the globe. The Arms Trade Treaty represents a unique opportunity to regulate the specialised parts and components used in the arms trade and, indeed, will be fatally flawed if it does not do so.