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Research Report

Demand, Stockpiles, and Social Controls:: Small Arms in Yemen

Derek B. Miller
Copyright Date: May. 1, 2003
Published by: Small Arms Survey
Pages: 64

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. i-ii)
  2. (pp. iii-iii)
  3. (pp. iv-iv)
  4. (pp. iv-iv)
  5. (pp. v-v)
  6. (pp. vii-viii)
  7. (pp. 1-2)

    A magnificent and ancient society² racked by a series of wars in the past half century, Yemen is suspected of having the highest per capita holdings of small arms in the world. Government officials and tribesmen alike nod, shrug, and sometimes smile when telling foreigners that their country is home to some 50 million small arms, the majority of which are fully automatic assault rifles. Using newly-developed techniques, a more accurate national holdings estimate has been found, which reduces the myth by over 80 per cent.³

    This paper is based upon three questions:

    How many small arms and light weapons...

  8. (pp. 3-13)

    Yemen has a population of well over 18 million, which combined with the country’s total area of 527,970 km², results in a density of about 30 persons per km². The northern parts of Yemen are most densely populated, leaving two-thirds of the land less inhabited.⁴ In contrast to the nomadic traditions of other Arabian Peninsula inhabitants, Yemenis have long been settled in small agricultural communities. A full 76 per cent of people live in rural areas.⁵ Because of its arid climatic conditions, high temperatures and drought, Yemen suffers from a shortage of natural resources. Fresh water is very limited.


  9. (pp. 14-29)

    The Small Arms Survey 2002 estimates that the global stockpile of small arms is about 640 million (Small Arms Survey, 2002, p. 63). However, the matter of generating estimates for communities, states, or regions is a rather different task from that of creating a global estimate, and one that has not received a great deal of systematic attention in countries that lack a central register of weapons. Global stockpile estimates rely on the fact that after accounting for weapons destruction programmes and attrition of weapons, all weapons produced and once owned by militaries and civilians are still somewhere in circulation.25...

  10. (pp. 30-44)

    A small arms impact assessment has never been produced for Yemen. Consequently, the health, crime, economic, and psychological consequences of small arms use remain uncertain. For a thorough study to be conducted on even one of these elements, a great deal of consideration would have to be given by people in numerous fields to define the parameters of the study and the means of carrying it out. If one were interested in crime, for example, the researcher would have to make a distinction between using a normative definition of crime (what should be considered criminal) and an instrumental definition (what...

  11. (pp. 45-48)

    Many commentators suggest that poverty and underdevelopment promote the use of and demand for small arms. Yemen is indeed a poor and generally underdeveloped country with a low standard of living. It does, however, have extremely strong traditional mechanisms for conflict resolution, which act to regulate violence. Sometimes these rules of social behaviour encourage violence, and at other times restrain it. What appears clear, however, is that few people act outside those constraints.

    Contrary to popular belief, Yemen does not have 50 million small arms and light weapons. Even though there is no hard data about the exact numbers of...

  12. (pp. 49-51)
  13. (pp. 52-54)
  14. (pp. 55-55)