The United Nations annually requests that countries voluntarily submit data on their exports and imports of battle tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), heavy artillery, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, and missiles and missile launchers to its Register of Conventional Arms. Countries are also encouraged to provide information on their domestic production and total military holdings in the same weapons categories.
Marking the highest level of participation in the register’s 10-year history, more than 120 countries have responded this year with reports on their 2001 arms trade activities. Twenty-seven countries reported exporting arms, while 39 claimed to receive weapons deliveries. Seventy-five countries reported no arms exports or imports.
The register provides a relatively comprehensive picture of the global arms trade because most major arms exporters make yearly register reports. One notable exception is China, which stopped participating in the register in 1998 to protest the U.S. annual reporting on its arms exports to Taiwan, which China does not recognize as an independent state.
Many African and most Middle Eastern countries also do not participate in the register, charging that it does not reflect their security concerns. African countries claim that the register is not particularly relevant, because it lacks small arms and light weapons categories, which are the most prevalent arms on the African continent. Middle Eastern states generally boycott the register because they argue it should cover weapons of mass destruction—a complaint aimed at forcing Israel to acknowledge its presumed nuclear weapons holdings.
Below are the 27 countries reporting arms exports for 2001. The figure preceding each recipient state indicates the number of weapons declared by the exporting country. The figure following each recipient state is the number that it claimed to have received. Often the two numbers do not match, a discrepancy that reflects the lack of agreement as to when a deal becomes an export. For example, some countries define an export as when a sale is made, while others believe it is when the sold item leaves their territory or reaches an importer’s territory. Countries in red did not participate in the register.