Because We Have the Maxim Gun: The Relationship between Arms Acquisition by Non-State Groups and Violence

Led by Nicholas Marsh

Mar 2005 – May 2020

​​​​​The work on this PHD project at the Department of Political Science, University of Oslo, is conducted at PRIO.

The work on this PHD project at the Department of Political Science, University of Oslo, is conducted at PRIO.

*Supervisors:*Halvard Buhaug, PRIO
Anne Julie Semb, University of Oslo

This project examines the effects of the proliferation of weapons upon violence in developing countries. It is concerned with the acquisition of weapons by non-state groups involved in warfare, other forms of political violence, and crime.

The research associated with this project has focussed upon:

  • The licit and illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons
  • Governance of arms in developing countries
  • Changes in 'street prices' for assault rifles in conflict zones
  • The type of weapon that caused death and injury in civil wars
  • Cross-national comparisons of the relationship between homicide and seizures of illicit arms
  • The factors that explain military victory by rebel forces in civil war

Work has mainly focussed upon collecting data, and datasets have been created on arms prices, arms possession in Libya, and global seizures of firearms.

The research associated with this project has been presented at numerous policy forums, including at United Nations conferences on the arms trade in 2013 and 2015, at a UN expert meeting in 2016, at the European Commission, and to the Norwegian government. Nicholas Marsh has also worked as a consultant to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime on arms trafficking and to the Geneva based Small Arms Survey, and is part of a EUROPOL expert panel on firearms trafficking.

Nicholas Marsh has frequently been quoted in international media on arms acquisition and conflict, including a recent articles in the New York Times, Bloomberg and Deutsche Welle. Nicholas Marsh maintains a Twitter account with over 1 500 followers that contains daily news on arms proliferation, particularly to conflict zones. He has also written several recent blog posts on arms acquisition and political violence.

In addition to the publications listed below, articles currently under review in peer reviewed journals are:

  • Arms and intervention: building rebel military capability and the 2011 Libyan civil war
  • The only thing we want is weapons: arms availability, prices, and civil war
  • Reaching for the gun: the relationship between homicide and illicit arms
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