This paper highlights the importance of continued national and international attention upon stockpile management of small arms and light weapons. A stockpile can be defined as a store of weapons or ammunition, and stockpile management is designed to prevent two outcomes: the diversion of arms into illicit hands, and unplanned explosions. In addition, improved stockpile management has many other benefits for States, including improvements in record keeping which helps them to identify arms and ammunition in surplus.
This paper provides recent examples of diversion of small arms and ammunition through theft or loss. Severe problems exist in states involved in warfare or its aftermath. In addition, this paper identifies cases of significant losses which have occurred from armed forces not involved in war, and from law enforcement and private citizens and firms. Stockpile management should be a priority for all governments. The paper concludes with a recommendation for governments to start an informal, flexible and long term process to promote better stockpile management.