Arms Management and Destruction

Arms management and destruction (AMD) aims to have a positive human impact through addressing insecure and poorly stored weapons and munitions.

 View/download: Arms Management and Destruction photo book



Illicit – or black market – weapons and munitions sustain conflicts, fuel armed violence against ordinary people, and prevent stability, poverty reduction and development.

Theft and looting from arms stores, particularly in fragile states, is a major source of illicit weapons, which attract high values on the black market and can be traded across porous borders, frequently even crossing continents. 

An example of how unsecured weapons and munitions can bring devastation is the recent conflict in Mali, where the uncontrolled flow of weapons from Libya was instrumental in fuelling an armed rebellion that resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries, significant population displacement, and increased political tension throughout the region.

Poorly stored arms in Chad

Poorly stored weapons and munitions – like here at a storage facility for the national police force in Chad – are at risk of theft and looting.

All photos: Sean Sutton/MAG


Since 1979, more than 6,000 people have been killed because of unplanned explosions at munitions sites (UEMS), with nearly 22,000 injured [source:  Small Arms Survey].

A single incident, resulting from precariously managed items, often sees a huge explosion or series of explosions that can cause immediate loss of life, injury and disability, as well as destroying homes, schools and other civilian infrastructure. Dangerous and unstable munitions can be scattered over large distances, often kilometres away, presenting a further risk to civilians.

There were 528 recorded incidents between 1979 and 2015, in 101 countries and territories, including the one in the Republic of Congo that killed 282 people, injured 1,500 and left 14,000 without homes. Below is a TV news report on the disaster: 


AMD forms a substantial part of MAG's global effort to create a safer future for people affected by conflict, armed violence and insecurity.

It is primarily about reducing the risk and impact of unplanned explosions at munitions sites, and the risk of weapons and munitions being diverted to the illicit arms trade. UEMS and diversion both come at an enormous and devastating human cost.

MAG has worked to improve the safe and secure storage and management of weapons and munitions for more than a decade, with projects spanning 20 countries.


All of MAG's AMD assistance is carried out under the principle of national ownership. This means that MAG doens't try to address the insecure and poorly stored arms independently, but supports national authorities to do so.


Undertaken in full partnership with national authorities – normally the armed forces or police, but these can also include ministries or departments like the prison or parks services – assessments are key to MAG’s AMD work.

Assessments typically involve visits to armouries and explosive stores, risk assessments of storage facilities and identification of training requirements.

Unsecured weapons in Burkina Faso

Unsecured weapons and munitions at an armoury in Burkina Faso.


Weapons management practices that make people accountable for arms that have been assigned to them. Record-keeping is an essential component of weapons and munitions management.

Weapons record-keeping in Chad

Weapons are checked in and out at this new armoury constructed by MAG in Chad.


AMD work aims to reduce the risk of diversion by putting in place physical security measures that can reduce risk of theft. Gun racks are normally a key component of MAG’s armoury rehabilitation assistance. These can be produced locally against standard designs.

Weapon rack in Burkina Faso

Weapons racks like this one at an armoury in Burkina Faso reduce the risk of theft.


Weapons marking acts as the basis of accountable management systems. MAG’s assistance provide training and expert guidance on weapons marking that is in line with international guiding standards and good practice.

Weapons marking in Burkina Faso

Serial numbers being engraved into weapons at an armoury in Burkina Faso.


MAG has developed a range of capacity building and training courses. They are always tailored to national and regional context, but draw on the framework of international norms, standards and guidelines.

weapons safety and management in Burkina Faso

A MAG Technical Operations Manager delivers training on weapons safety and management to army personnel in Burkina Faso.


This aims to improve the safe and accountable destruction of weapons and small arms ammunition. Destruction methods ensure that all working parts of a weapon are put beyond use. 

Weapons cutting in DRC

Weapons cutting in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.


Other organisations refer to similar work as 'Physical Security and Stockpile Management' (PSSM) and 'Weapons and Ammunition Management/Destruction’ (WAM/WAD).


  Landmine and unexploded ordnance clearance

  Risk education

  Emergency response

  Frequently asked questions