UN reports gains in gathering information on governments defence spending levels

The UN Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures used to receive information from fewer than 30 States during its first two decades of operation, beginning in 1980, but since 2000, that figure has jumped by over 50 per cent. More than 100 States have reported at least once, while 77 submitted annual reports this year, up from 61 in 2001 and 35 in 2000. Another tool, the UN Register of Conventional Arms, has also seen a rise in participation. The Register deals primarily with international arms transfers of conventional weapons such as battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, attack helicopters, warships and missile launchers. In 2001, 120 governments submitted reports – a 20 per cent increase over the previous two years. The UN Department for Disarmament Affairs, which has been working to foster greater transparency in military matters, is planning a series of workshops to raise the international profile of these instruments and promote their widespread use.