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Following the Thread: Arms and Ammunition Tracing in Sudan and South Sudan

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Over the past ten years, the Small Arms Survey and others have documented the role of small arms and light weapons in the multiple conflicts within and between Sudan and South Sudan. Until very recently, however, the specific types of arms and ammunition, their sources, and their possible pathways into the hands of non-state armed actors have been only generally understood.

To enhance our understanding, the Small Arms Survey’s Human Security Baseline Assessment (HSBA) for Sudan and South Sudan launched the HSBA Arms and Ammunition Tracing Desk in September 2011 . The tracing pro ject’s objectives are to (a) refine previous estimates of the numbers and types of weapons held by various actors through focused field research; (b) apply tracing techniques employed by UN expert panels and other official bodies to investigate the origins and possible sourcing routes of weapons and ammuni - tion; and (c) promote best practices for the identification and tracing of arms and ammunition in Sudan and South Sudan among all interested stakeholders.

To date, the HSBA project has releasedtracing reports providing detailed documentation on specific weapons and ammunition in the hands of non-state actors involved in conflict in Sudan and South Sudan.

This Working Paper provides an overview of the project’s findings with regard to the types of weapons observed, their country of manufacture, and patterns of holdings among different actors that are indicative of common supply sources. It synthesizes the findings of more than two years’ worth of field - work and follow-up investigations by HSBA project staff and consultants, initially published in web-based reports. In the interest of timeliness, those initial reports were rapidly released following field investigations. This Working Paper takes the opportunity to reflect more fully on the tracing project and the wider implications of its findings for Sudan and South Sudan, parties committed to supporting armed violence reduction efforts there, and arms and ammunition exporters. In addition, the paper provides a snapshot of what is known about domestic Sudanese arms and ammunition production.

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