The T-Rex in the Room: Using Network Analysis to Get a Better Grasp of Small Arms Issues


The international small arms and light weapons (SALW) trade is a pervasive, lucrative, poorly regulated and poorly understood network of global business with subtle yet far-reaching consequences on the state of world affairs. While much has been written on the topic of the legal and illegal international SALW trade and its consequences, little has been done to try to understand the extremely complex and nuanced network of the trade as a whole. This report, aimed at addressing this issue, will (1) provide a literature review on SALW nonproliferation and social network analysis for context, (2) posit the case for the usefulness of social network analysis as an innovative descriptive and inferential tool in analyzing international SALW networks and nonproliferation efforts, (3) present a description of the data to be utilized in the study, (4) report the findings of the study, (5) provide a contextual analysis of the findings, and (6) conclude. The study finds (a) a group of seven significant nations beyond simply measuring for sheer bulk of export and import; (b) a K-Core defined subgroup network of 49 most significant global traders; (c) a group of three nations significant by sheer import and export, but not in being networked in the K-Core subgroup; (d) a considerable overlap between the K-Core subgroup network and participating states of the Wassenaar Arrangement; (e) a minority of 14 K-Core subgroup nations that are not participating states of the Wassenaar Arrangement. It finds that adherence to international treaties for specific international SALW regulation is correlated to an increased net value of legal SALW trade and that membership in an multilateral export control regime is correlated to a decreased net value of legal SALW trade.


Monterey Institute of International Studies