Air transport of small arms and lights weapons (SALW) currently suffers from a lack of monitoring and control. Anchored in an economic dynamic, the transport stage is managed as a technical detail and upstaged without taking into account the sensitive nature of arms transfers.
The issue is all the more problematic as this type of weapons is easy to transport. Their clandestine delivery is harder to detect than that of conventional weapons of bigger dimensions. Their omnipresence and availability in zones of tensions and conflicts raise the issue of the possibility and simplicity of their physical transfer from one country to another. Diversions along the way and illicit transfers from a European country to a destination under UN embargo also raise the question of the efficiency of control systems of air transport in Europe. For that matter, the EU Common Positions on arms brokering and export control standards have reached their limits. The issue of air transport of SALW is indeed dealt with in spheres of action other than that of the control of arms exports.
At least three actors implicated in this control process have a capacity of action on the transport stage. Each one follows specific priorities and objectives: the licensing authorities seek to identify and avoid potential diversions, the customs try to identify undeclared transfers and the civil aviation authorities seek to maintain the air safety standards. Nevertheless, in this mosaic of documents and control mechanisms, these different actors should thoroughly coordinate their activities and share information on a regular basis.