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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of Political-Military Affairs > Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Releases > Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Fact Sheets > 2003
Fact Sheet
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
Washington, DC
July 10, 2003

United Nations Register of Conventional Arms

The United Nations Register of Conventional Arms is a voluntary arrangement established on January 1, 1992, under General Assembly resolution 46/36 L of December 9, 1991, entitled "Transparency in Armaments." The resolution called upon all Member States to provide annually by May 31 of each year, to the Secretary-General, relevant data on imports and exports of conventional arms to be included in the Register. UN member states are also invited to report on their military holdings and procurement through national production and relevant policies. In the same resolution, the General Assembly declared its determination to prevent the excessive and destabilizing accumulation of arms in order to promote stability and strengthen international peace and security, taking into account the legitimate security needs of States and the principle of undiminished security at the lowest possible level of armaments.

The technical procedures for the Register were developed by a Panel of Experts appointed by the Secretary-General in 1992. The recommendations by the Panel were endorsed by the General Assembly. Periodic reviews of the operation of the Register and its further developments have been conducted by the Secretary-General in 1994, 1997, and 2000. Paragraph 2 (a) of the annex to General Assembly resolution 46/36 L identifies the following seven categories of equipment on which Member States are requested to supply data to the Register: battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, and missiles or missile systems. Based on the Group of Experts convened in 1994, 1997, and 2000, the categories and their definitions to be used for reporting to the Register are as follows:

  1. Battle Tanks: Tracked or wheeled self-propelled armory fighting vehicles weighing in at least 16.5 metric tons unladen weight, with a high-muzzle-velocity direct-fire main gun of a caliber of at least 75 mm.

  2. Armored Combat Vehicles: Tracked, semi-tracked, or wheeled self-propelled vehicles, with armored protection and either designed and equipped to transport a squad of four or more infantrymen, or armed with an integral or organic weapon of at least 12.5 mm caliber or missile launcher.

  3. Large-Caliber Artillery Systems: Guns, howitzers, artillery pieces combining the characteristics of a gun or a howitzer, mortars or multiple-launch rocket systems, with a caliber of 100 mm and above.

  4. Combat Aircraft: Fixed-wing or variable geometry wing aircraft designed, equipped or modified to engage targets by employing guided missiles, unguided rockets, guns, cannons, or other weapons of destruction, including versions of aircraft which perform reconnaissance missions, specialized electronic warfare, or suppression of air defense.

  5. Attack Helicopters: Rotary-wing aircraft designed, equipped or modified to engage targets by employing guided or unguided anti-armor, air-to-surface, air-to-subsurface, or air-to-air weapons, including versions of these aircraft which perform reconnaissance or electronic warfare missions.

  6. Warships: Vessels or submarines armed and equipped for military use with a standard displacement of 750 metric tons or above, and those with a standard displacement of less than 750 metric tons, equipped for launching missiles with a range of at least 25 km or torpedoes with a similar range.

  7. Missiles and Missile Launchers: Guided or unguided rockets, ballistic or cruise missiles capable of delivering a warhead or weapon of destruction to a range of at least 25 km, and means designed or specially modified for launching such missiles or rockets. Does not include ground-to-air missiles.

All Member States, regardless of their size or their prominence, are invited to participate in the Register. Those members with no imports and/or exports to annually report can participate by submitting "NIL" returns. Since its establishment in 1992, 162 states have participated in the Register by reporting either on a consistent basis or at least once. In 1993, 94 countries submitted returns; in 1994, 93; in 1995, 97; in 1996, 96; in 1997, 95; in 1998, 98; in 1999, 84; in 2000, 99; in 2001, 117; and in 2002, 125. Almost all of the major producers, exporters, and importers of major conventional weapons have participated in the Register on a consistent basis.

In calendar year 2002, 17 of the 53 African Member States; 30 of the 53 Asian Member States; 21 of the 22 Eastern European Member States; 26 of the 33 Latin American and Caribbean Member States; 29 of the 29 Western European and other Member States; and 2 of the 2 non-Member States had submitted information. Regional transparency has been affected as well.

The UN Register of Conventional Arms Report is made available to all member states, encouraging bilateral and regional dialogues on security concerns. Both the reporting forms and that data are available at the UN website, www.un.org/Depts/dda/CAB/register.htm.

For further information contact:

Nazir Kamal
Department for Disarmament Affairs
United Nations, NY
Tel: (212) 963-6195
Fax: (212) 963-1121

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