Arms and Ammunition  


As part of the Research Department on Security Challenges at Seaports (RDSCS), the Research Unit on Arms and Ammunition (RUAA) focuses on the risks posed by arms and ammunition transiting either legally or illegally through seaports. Its objective is to provide stakeholders and Academia with a comprehensive analysis of this issue as well as to develop effective solutions. It also concentrates on but is not limited to, both the lawful and illicit manufacture of firearms as well as the import and export of arms and ammunition throughout European ports. Notably, the emphasis is allocated upon Dutch ones, particularly the Port of Rotterdam.

The illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition

The illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition constitutes a rather across-the-board issue as far as seaports are concerned. Particularly because the methods through which it is conducted do not differ from, and often overlap with, those used for the trafficking in drugs, counterfeit goods and contraband. The  Illicit trafficking in firearms has been defined at the international level as “the import, export, acquisition, sale, delivery, movement or transfer of firearms, their parts and components and ammunition from or across the territory of one [State] to that of another if any one of the States concerned does not authorise it or if the firearms are not marked”. Because of their logistic position in the international supply chain and their role as entry points, seaports are vulnerable to exploitation. Hence, seaports-related stakeholders constitute the core of actors the Research Unit on Arms and Ammunition aims to work with to limit the exploitability of the security gaps by either individuals or entities carrying out such criminal offences.

The risks associated with the legal arms trade

The arms trade is intrinsically linked to seaports as lots of arms are traded legally via containerised cargoes. However, it has been proven that non-negligible shares of firearms are diverted to black markets or end up in the hands of paramilitary and terrorist organisations. Diverted arms can then be used to commit violent crimes, terrorist attacks and other serious offences. Particularly in politically unstable regions. The diversion of arms usually implies the presence of a certain degree of corruption amongst actors involved. This is particularly prominent for seaports where the speed of trade flow and the number of cargoes transiting every day make it difficult to spot potential thefts or diversions.  Therefore, the RUAA aims to provide both private and public stakeholders with best practices to tackle corruption and other arms trade-related criminal offences as well as develop solutions to flag suspect shipments and prevent the re-occurrence of issues such as cargo thefts.

The Team

The RUAA is composed of young professionals of different nationalities whose fields of expertise range from Legal Studies to International Affairs. The members of the RUAA are entirely committed to the work of the Invictus Corporation and eager to provide its stakeholders with thorough research. In doing so, the RUAA is supported by experienced Technical Units assisting with data analysis tasks as well as providing with sharp insights when it comes to stakeholders engagement and training development.

Recent Publications

The work of the Research Unit on Arms and Ammunition will be made available here. 

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