PRIO Network

The Arms Fixers: Controlling the Brokers and Shipping Agents

This joint report by PRIO/ NISAT/ BASIC, released in Nov. 1999, explores the role of middlemen in setting up often illegal arms deals. The study contains recommendations for States to curb the deadly activities.


The Arms Fixers
Controlling the Brokers and Shipping Agents
By Brian Wood and Johan Peleman

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4


Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11


Unfortunately this report is no longer available in paper format.
  You are free to download the text of the report for private study
 and academic research.  However further reproduction of this
 report is not to be made in any way, electronically, on paper or
otherwise, without the prior and explicit consent of the publishers.


Chapter Overview

Chapter 1:      Arms Brokering Emerges from the Cold War

Tracing the Roots – The French Connection – Small Arms and Mr Cummings – Changing Old Assumptions. With the end of the Cold War, the role of arms brokers and trafficking agents has been changing rapidly. Governments have been slow in meeting these new challenges, as this report shows.


Chapter 2:      The Day it Rained Arms in India

The Third Man – Collection and Delivery – Mystery Remains. The complex real-life story of an arms deal– and perhaps an intelligence deal – that went wrong.


Chapter 3:      Brokering Arms for Genocide

Prelude to Genocide – Trying to Stop Further Deliveries – The South African Who Cleared a Million Dollars – Swiss Banking Arrangements – The Anglo-French Offshore Method – Who Cares About the Missing Million? – Bartering Arms for the Brazzaville Massacres. Rwanda: a blow-by-blow account of how brokers and transport agents arranged the supply of arms used to commit international crimes against humanity.


Chapter 4:      Shopping in the Shadows

Eastern Europe plays a central role in international arms brokering, with companies supplying cheap small arms, ammunition, grenades, military vehicles, armoured personnel carriers and attack/transport helicopters. Also in the West, uncontrolled surpluses from the Cold War get siphoned off into the international marketplace, as is documented here.


Chapter 5:      Flying the Company ‘Flags of Convenience’

Air Trafficking to UNITA – Ex-Soviet Business Steps In – Flying the Red Sea Routes. Beneath a cargo plane’s external paintwork and its simple registration number lie the intricacies of the international aviation business – and a mass of possible loopholes. Arms have been found described as ‘agricultural equipment’, ‘spare parts’, ‘fish’, ‘tents’ and ‘second-hand clothing’. A cargo aircraft can be registered in one country, leased and chartered by companies registered in another, with crews hired in yet other countries.


Chapter 6:      Mysterious Ships

Indian Ocean and the Sea Pigeons – Embargo-Busting Ships from Argentina – The Broker Called ‘Lasnaud’. Ninety percent of all world trade is maritime trade, and considerable quantities of arms are ferried by sea. The countries variously involved in the cases cited here include the USA, Mexico, Belgium, Hungary, Greece, Seychelles, Mozambique, Sri Lanka, Israel, Croatia, Tanzania, Ecuador, Denmark, Argentina – and a host of others.


Chapter 7:      The Mercenary Routes

Israeli Dealing in Hot Spots – London Brokers for Arms and Mercenaries – Mercenary Air Power. A complex network of trails: Colombia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Papua New Guinea/ Bougainville, Uganda and Rwanda, Belarus… plus a mysterious airline company.


Chapter 8:      The USA: Getting Around the Toughest Law

US Sting Operation – Exploiting the NATO Weak Link – Back to the High-Tech Future – ‘Drop Shipping’. The paradoxical situation of the USA: loose legal controls on domestic guns sales and ownership contrast with a tough new US law on international arms brokering. Also: the case of pepper sprays and stun weapons masquerading as ‘key chains’, ‘fountain pens’, ‘jogging weights’,’ electrical volt units’ and ‘portable door locks’.


Chapter 9:      Weak National Laws of Western States

Examines the legislation of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, South Africa, the UK, and the USA


Chapter 10:      What About International Action?

Identifying Common Underlying Problems: Scope of Controls; Export and Import Licenses; Transit Documents; Transport Documents; Surplus Stocks and Production; Arms Embargoes; Tax Havens and Front Companies – What About International Law and Standards? – International Negotiations to Limit Small Arms – and an appeal from the UN Secretary-General.


Chapter 11:     An Agenda for Change: Internationally Harmonized Controls on Arms Brokering and Transport Agents

A point-by-point checklist for all governments