Initially seven categories of major conventional weapons, namely: battle tanks,
armoured combat vehicles, large calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft,
attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile-launchers, - were covered by
A regular review of the Register by Groups of Governmental Experts (GGE),
including expansion of its scope by the addition of new categories of arms, is
an integral part of its operation. In their work, GGE had to consider a number
of "politico-military" factors relevant to the establishment of a reporting
mechanism consistent with confidence building and issues of regional and
international stability, including new security challenges.
The majority of conflicts during the last two decades have not involved
considerable amount of major conventional arms. The weapons used were smaller
and lighter and specifically not covered by the Register, but fell in with the
categories of SALW.
In 2003, when SALW emerged as a major item in the global arms control agenda, an
agreement on the Register expansion at the expense of SALW was reached. After
intensive debate, the Group agreed upon lowering the reporting threshold for
artillery from 100 mm to 75 mm, and the inclusion of MANPADS in Category VII of
the Register "Missiles and missile-launchers".
In addition to this, the Group made a recommendation aimed at more transparency
in transfer of SALW. Member States, which are in a position to do so, were
encouraged to provide additional information on international transfers of
SALW. In order to promote preparation and submission of the relevant
information to the Register, in 2006 the GGE adopted standardized forms for
reporting export and import of SALW.
The reporting of SALW transfers for the last three years has increased both in
terms of the number of reporting States, the details of their transfers and the
diversity of countries submitting reports (see table).
The progress achieved over this period has imparted an additional dimension to
the Register’s value as a source of data on arms transfers. The respective
information was included in almost 60 per cent of reports submitted to the
Register in 2009. At the same time, neither of five major regional groups
reached 100 per cent reporting on SALW transfers so far, though the majority of
UN Member States have underlined the importance of increased transparency in
this area. Although the submissions of 2010 reports for the UN Register is
still in progress, as of 10 June 2010 UNODA has already received 34 reports
from Member States, 16 of which contain information on international transfers
of small arms and light weapons.