The Project on Small Arms and Arms Control

Deutschsprachige Version

BITS has provided non-governmental and international organisations which are campaigning to ban landmines such as Medico International, Greenpeace and UNICEF with crucial background information. BITS has worked on the establishment of databases on landmines and their producers and has published the detailed report „Landmines in Germany". BITS is host to the coordinating office of the „German Initiative to ban Land Mines" and the Website-Project of medico international and Misereor (

Most of the other activities on small Arms and arms export have so far been based on the work of volunteers, as BITS has no independent funding for the project at the moment. In winter 1999 BITS organised an informal coalition of German NGOs called „Forum Rüstungsexporte" which intervened in the public and political debate that preceded the passing of new arms export guidelines in Germany. The forum was instrumental in pushing for the adoption of more restrictive arms export guidelines in January 2000. BITS strives to follow up this work by keeping a "Watch List" of planned and potential arms exports. This will provide the opportunity for early identification of exports violating the new guidelines and allow for a renewed mobilisation of the forum.

BITS was among the first organisations pushing to tackle the problems related with the small arms and ammunition, when the center did research on the subject for German NGOs in 1992. BITS developed a new resarch strategy to follow the trade in small arms and conducted a detailed analysis of the trade with surplus weapons of the former GDR and of NATO’s arms trade with Greece and Turkey. BITS also contributed to the surplus weapons project of the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC) and the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

In 1999 BITS published a report on the diffusion of Small Arms in Somaliland, the Northwestern Part of what used to be Somalia.(Small Arms in Somaliland: Their Role and Diffusion) The report is based on field research done be two of BITS‘ junior research associates. The report particularly advocates new approaches to control small arms in the region. The authors argue that in the current situation, the reduction of the demand for small arms should have priority over the collection of these weapons.