Toward Internationally Regulated Goods: Controlling the Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons

Efrat, Asif
January 2010
International Organization;Winter2010, Vol. 64 Issue 1, p97
Academic Journal
Contrary to the general trend of trade liberalization, specific goods--such as small arms, drugs, and antiquities--have come under increasing international control in recent decades through a set of international regulatory agreements. This article offers a theoretical framework of government preferences on the international regulation of these goods. Departing from conventional models of trade policy, the theoretical framework introduces negative externalities, rather than protection, as the motivation for restricting trade; it also takes moral concerns into account. I test this framework empirically through an original survey of government views on international small-arms regulation. Based on interviewing officials from 118 countries, the survey reveals a large variation in government preferences that conforms to the theoretical expectations. I employ this variation to explain why the international regulation of small arms is weak, despite the fact that these are the deadliest weapons of all in terms of actual death toll.


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