HSBA Document Archive
Visit the archive section of the HSBA website for older updates and versions of HSBA documents.
HSBA Tracing Desk reports
Sudan's Military Industry Complex (3 July 2014)
Weapons captured from David Yau Yau's militia, Jonglei, July 2013 (21 August 2013)
Weapons in service with David Yau Yau's militia, February 2013
(12 April 2013)
SPLA-N weapons and equipment, South Kordofan, December 2012
(28 February 2013)
Weapons seized from the forces of George Athor and John Duit
(13 December 2012)
Weapons identified in Hejlij/Panthou and Bentiu
(5 June 2012)
SAF weapons documented in South Kordofan (April 2012)
White army arms and ammunition (March 2012)
Further arms and ammunition seized from Peter Gadet's forces (January 2012)
Former SAF Joint Integrated Unit displays its weapons
Arms and ammunition captured from SAF in South Kordofan (November 2011)
Arms and ammunition captured from SAF in Blue Nile
A Guide to Sudanese Ammunition (1954-present) (November 2011)
Materiel seized from Peter Gadet’s forces (October 2011)
Materiel seized from George Athor’s forces (October 2011)
HSBA Arms and Ammunition Tracing Desk
In December 2009 the Small Arms Survey estimated that there were some 2.7 million small arms and light weapons in Sudan, more than two-thirds of which were circulating outside of state-controlled stockpiles. Widespread arms proliferation among non-state actors has long been identified as a critical factor leading to the outbreak and escalation of armed violence and conflict in Sudan and South Sudan. Non-state actors obtain these weapons through direct contributions from governments, leakage from government stocks, captures on the battlefield, and cross-border trade. Identifying the sourcing of arms and ammunition is an important tool that helps stakeholders better understand—and ultimately address—the dynamics that contribute to armed conflict.
In September 2011 the HSBA launched the Arms and Ammunition Tracing Desk for Sudan and South Sudan. The aims of this project are to:
- refine previous estimates of the numbers and types of weapons among various Sudanese actors through focused field research;
- apply tracing techniques employed by UN expert panels and other official bodies to investigate the origins and possible sourcing routes of weapons and ammunition; and
- promote best practices for the identification and tracing of arms and ammunition in Sudan and South Sudan among all interested stakeholders.
Our aim is for the Tracing Desk to become a central resource and clearing house for the identification and analysis of arms and ammunition holdings and flows in Sudan and South Sudan. Outputs will include timely web reports based on field research and collaborations with Sudanese and international stakeholders, an HSBA Issue Brief in 2012 on arms flows and holdings, and contributions to other HSBA publications.
Arms tracing is a multi-step technical process that involves the identification, mapping, and verification of arms and ammunition:
- Identification involves recording the make, model, and unique identifying markings of each weapon, round of ammunition, and weapons-/ammunition-bearing container/vessel (such as ammunition crates). Because there is no international standardized system for marking weapons and ammunition, experts depend on a wide variety of resources for this identification process.
- Mapping consists of cross-referencing and analysis of independent samples of arms and ammunition to illuminate patterns in holdings and procurement. For instance, matching lot numbers of ammunition found in the stocks of several armed groups may indicate a source-to-recipient pattern of supply.
- Verification is the process of triangulating findings with national arms export reports; databases such as the UN Register of Conventional Arms and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s Arms Transfer Database; qualitative data; and, where possible, sales documentation from manufacturing governments to obtain a picture of weapons transfer routes.
Because arms and ammunition may change hands many times between point of manufacture and possession by a non-state armed group, the tracing process is often protracted.
Extensive field research conducted by the UN Panel of Experts on Sudan, the Small Arms Survey, and other independent researchers has already confirmed that a number of non-state armed groups operating in Darfur, the Three Areas, and South Sudan are extremely well equipped militarily. Kalashnikov-pattern assault rifles, general-purpose machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and in some instances 12.7 mm heavy machine guns have all been documented in significant quantities. While the vast majority of these weapons are decades old, newly manufactured weapons have, for example, been identified in the stocks of some Southern insurrectionist forces. Ammunition for these weapons is readily available.
Agencies and practitioners who would like to identify and trace specific arms and ammunition recovered in Sudan are encouraged to contact the HSBA Tracing Desk at sudantracing(at)smallarmssurvey(dot)org.
HSBA Tracing Desk reports:
- Weapons destroyed by UNMISS in Malakal and Upper Nile, December 2014 (22 May 2015)
- Small arms ammunition documented at the Bentiu mosque, May 2014 (24 July 2014)
- Weapons captured from David Yau Yau's militia, Jonglei, July 2013 (21 August 2013)
- Weapons and ammunition of returning SSLA forces, Mayom, Unity state, May 2013 (3 July 2013)
- Comparable SPLM-N arms and ammunition stocks in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, April 2013 (13 May 2013)
- Weapons in service with David Yau Yau's militia, February 2013
(12 April 2013)
- SPLA-N weapons and equipment, South Kordofan, December 2012
(28 February 2013)
- Weapons seized from the forces of George Athor and John Duit
(13 December 2012)
- Further weapons seized from SAF in South Kordofan (July 2012)
- Weapons identified in Hejlij/Panthou and Bentiu (5 June 2012)
- SAF weapons documented in South Kordofan (April 2012)
- White army arms and ammunition (March 2012)
- Anti-tank and anti-personnel mines in Unity and Jonglei states (March 2012)
- Further arms and ammunition seized from Peter Gadet's forces (January 2012)
- Former SAF Joint Integrated Unit displays its weapons (December 2011)
- Arms and ammunition captured from SAF in South Kordofan (November 2011)
- Arms and ammunition captured from SAF in Blue Nile (November 2011)
- A Guide to Sudanese Ammunition (1954-present) (November 2011)
- Materiel seized from Peter Gadet’s forces (October 2011)
- Materiel seized from George Athor’s forces (October 2011)
- Common weapon holdings among armed actors in Sudan and South Sudan (map) (from Issue Brief 19, April 2012)
- The Small Arms Survey has produced an Ammunition Tracing Kit in English and French and a set of ID cards to aid in the visual identification of a selection of firearms commonly used in contemporary armed conflicts and crimes.