How To

There are several ways how to explore the ExitArms.org database.

Firstly, you can filter the database here. There is a drop-down filter to look for certain companies, recipient states, supplier states or locations of conflict. Alternatively, there is a free search field where you can write a country name or a company name, whereby the company name can be written in different ways including old names of the company and alternatively used names (i.e. Constructions Aeronáuticas SA for Airbus Defence and Space). Additionally, you can copy and paste the International Securities Identification Number (ISIN) of company shares, corporate bonds and depositary receipts to identify a certain company.

When filtering for a company via the drop-down, the table only shows the arms deliveries of the respective company, e.g. when choosing Airbus in the drop-down, the table displays exclusively deliveries where Airbus is involved. Contrary to the company drop-down filter, the free search field not necessarily shows only the arms deliveries of one company, e.g. when writing “Airbus” in the free search field, the table displays all deliveries where companies are involved that bear “Airbus” in their name, their old names or their alternatively used names. Therefore, when writing “Airbus”, the table shows also deliveries where Airbus Helicopters Inc or Hensoldt – a spin-off which before was the Airbus Defence and Space electronics business unit – are involved.

Generally, the table displays the form of involvement of certain companies in respective arms deliveries. Thus, every row of the table shows a different form of involvement and not necessarily a different arms delivery. For example, when filtering for one recipient state, the table shows all companies involved in arms exports to the chosen recipient state. One row of the table might show the consortium MBDA as being directly involved in a certain arms delivery. The next row might show Airbus as being indirectly involved in a certain arms delivery as one of the three companies that together form the consortium MBDA. Thus, both rows refer to the same arms export but show two different forms of involvement. Another case are arms deliveries where different companies are involved in different ways, e.g. one company manufactured the weapons and another company transported them to the recipient state. Thus, two rows refer to the same arms export, whereby one shows the manufacturer of the weapons and the other row shows the exporter.

Secondly, you can explore the database via two world maps. The recipient map shows all recipient states - countries that imported weapons and were involved in at least one war between 2015 and 2020 – in teal blue. When clicking on one recipient state, there are two options: “filter for…” and “detailed country information”. The latter provides information about the respective country such as a conflict description and BICC assessments for human rights and illicit arms trade. When choosing “filter for…”, the map will display the chosen recipient state in teal blue and the locations of conflict – war regions where the respective recipient state is involved in armed conflicts – in grey. Below the map, there is a table showing all arms deliveries to the chosen recipient state. When filtering for a location of conflict instead of a recipient state, the table shows all arms deliveries to recipient states that are involved militarily in the war in the respective location of conflict.

Besides the recipient map, you can use the supplier map as well. The supplier map shows all supplier states – countries that exported weapons to war regions between 2015 and 2020 - in yellow. When clicking on one supplier state, the map displays the chosen supplier state in yellow and the recipient states – warring countries that imported weapons from the respective supplier state – in teal blue. Below the map, there is a table showing all arms deliveries from the chosen supplier state to the displayed recipient states. In the table, you can click on “delivery details” to get additional information on the respective arms delivery, the involved company and the violent conflict which was fueled by this delivery.

Finally, you can also download the database in Excel. These Excel sheets contain some additional information, such as the comlete lists of recipient states and weapon categories per company.

Methodology

Which companies are covered by ExitArms.org?

The aim of the database is to provide a global overview of companies that are involved in arms exports to war zones and warring states. It currently covers almost 500 companies, including parent companies, subsidiaries and joint ventures. It is not a general look at arms companies, but specifically at companies that are involved in various ways in arms deliveries to war zones.

Country selection

The starting point for the database is the selection of conflict actors/conflict states based on the Heidelberg Conflict Barometer. It has been published by the renowned Heidelberg Institute for Conflict Research since 1992. Compared to its peers in empirical conflict research, this institute integrates qualitative criteria more strongly in its research in order to categorize states as crisis or war zones. This makes it possible to identify conflict dynamics at an early stage.

Only conflicts that reached conflict intensity four (limited war) or five (war) at least once in the period from 2015 to 2020 were included in the current version of ExitArms.org. Intensity levels one and two include non-violent conflicts. Level three describes conflicts in which violence is used without the use of military weapons. The conflict intensity definition by the Heidelberg Conflict Barometer is based on an assessment of the conflict consequences in terms of victims, refugees, militarization, degree of organization of violence, and destruction of infrastructure. Additionally: ExitArms.org does not include conflicts for which the United Nations Security Council has issued a mandate under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter that includes the use of force.

The conflict states are listed as "recipient states" in ExitArms.org if they are seeking a conflict object and are recognized as a relevant actor by the other conflict actors/conflict states (based on the Heidelberg Methodology). Additionally, recipient states are only listed if they are directly involved with their own military forces in at least one of the conflicts covered. In its current status the database covers Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Mali, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Please note: For the recipient states Jordan, Kuwait and Indonesia, the database so far only records German arms deliveries. Deliveries from other states are still being added. Moreover, arms deliveries to Bahrain, Burundi, Colombia, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal and the Philippines are still being researched.

The country from whose territory weapons were delivered to a recipient state, is called “supplier state”. In the current status of the database, these are: Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czechia, Denmark, Egypt, European Union, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Israel, Italy, Jordan, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, and Uzbekistan.

For all recipient states on ExitArms.org, a profile page is provided, including detailed conflict descriptions based on the Heidelberg Conflict Barometer, as well as a current assessment of the human rights situation and the risk assessment regarding the illegal transfer of weapons based on data from the Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies (BICC). A detailed description of the methodology of BICC can be found here.

Sources

The starting point for the research on arms exports is the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. This database shows international transfers of major conventional arms and therefore does not include small arms and ammunition. Urgewald and Facing Finance have analysed over 1200 arms exports to conflict and war zones recorded in the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database in the period 2015-2020. However, the SIPRI Database does not contain any information on the companies involved. Urgewald and Facing Finance gathered information on the companies responsible by means of independent research, at arms fairs and via media reporting. The aim of this research was to prove the direct responsibility of a company for the export of a military equipment and not only that this company is the producer of this military equipment. For all arms exports analysed, research was carried out to document which companies were actually responsible for that particular arms export. If a company's involvement in an arms export is merely probable but we cannot prove it, it is not included in ExitArms.org.

In order to identify and assign responsibility to individual companies for specific arms exports, we consulted academic publications, specialist journals (e.g. Jane's Defence Weekly, International Security and Defence Journal, Jane's International Defence Review, Shephard, African Security), subject-specific websites (e.g. Defense World, Army Technology, Naval Technology, Defense News, Army Recognition, Naval News), commercial databases, independent web searches, primary sources from defence companies (e.g. corporate websites, arms show materials, brochures), government websites (e.g. DSCA, Ministries of Defence) and on-site research at arms shows (DSEI in London, DEFEA in Athens).

Identification

For the identification of companies, we provide their official names, old company names, alternatively used company names, headquarters, websites, and ISINs of their financial instruments, including shares, bonds and depositary receipts. Thereby, we make sure that all companies can be identified correctly and there is no company confusion.

Company involvement

The responsibility of the companies covered includes the production, modernization, refurbishment, design, repair, sale and supply of arms, as well as the supply of dual-use products and the licensing of arms production on site in war zones. Consequently, ExitArms.org includes not only military companies, but also companies that are involved in other ways, for example by transporting the arms to a warring state. For each arms export, we indicate in which way the respective company is involved in this specific arms delivery. The forms of company involvement are divided into the following categories: manufactured, awarded licence, modified, repaired, modernized, designed and exported. Exported can either mean the sale or the transport of military equipment to conflict and war zones.

Time frame

The years 2015 to 2020 were selected as the time period, whereby we consider arms exports that were actually carried out as well as arms exports that were agreed on in 2015-2020, but which were not yet delivered. Arms deliveries before 2015 are left out in order to list only companies that have exported to conflict and war zones in the recent past and not those that have changed their business model. However, arms exports whose contracts were already concluded before 2015 are also considered if the last arms delivery of this contract took place in the period 2015-2020. According to the same principle, license approvals agreed before 2015 are also covered if these licensed productions continued in 2015-2020. Also included are contracts for arms deliveries signed in 2015-2020, even if these arms were not delivered until the following months or will be delivered in the future.

The fact that only arms deliveries up to the end of 2020 are considered is simply due to the fact that the research is very time-consuming. However, the database is updated at least annually and the arms exports of 2021 will be added in the near future.

Subsidiaries and joint ventures

For the over SIPRI 1200 arms exports to conflict and war zones that were analyzed, we identified almost 500 companies that were involved directly, via subsidiaries or via joint ventures. Of these, more than 100 companies are publicly listed and more than 200 companies are subsidiaries which we have assigned to the respective parent companies. The remaining companies are joint ventures, consortia, state-owned companies or are privately owned. The research of company linkages and assignments of companies to parent groups took place mainly on the respective company websites and databases such as Bloomberg or Refinitiv Eikon.

The assignment of a company to a parent group is always made if the parent company holds at least 50% of the shares in this company. Thus, companies that own shares in a company that exports weapons to war zones are not included if they only have a blocking minority (>20%) but not a majority shareholding. Only joint ventures and consortia are exempt from this rule. All joint ventures and consortia have been allocated to those companies that have a stake in these joint ventures and consortia, whereby there is no threshold value as a minimum shareholding.

As a general rule, we only hold parent companies responsible for the conduct of their subsidiaries and, conversely, never hold subsidiaries responsible for the operations of their parent companies. Following the same principle, joint ventures and consortia are not held responsible for the arms exports of the companies involved in these joint ventures and consortia.

Consequently, all of the approximately 500 companies in ExitArms.org are either directly involved in the arms exports researched, the parent company of a responsible company or part of a responsible joint venture or consortium. For each arms export, we list whether the respective company is involved directly, through a subsidiary or through a joint venture/consortium. The companies in ExitArms.org are involved to varying degrees in arms exports to conflict and war zones. Thus, for each company it is indicated in which form it is involved, whether it is directly or indirectly involved as well as in how many and in which cases it is involved.

Special cases

The methodology described leads to a few special cases, which are explained below.

Since we only list directly involved companies and their parent companies or, in the case of joint ventures, their shareholders, other subsidiaries of the same parent company are not included. For example, the French company Dassault Aviation is directly involved in arms exports to war zones and is consequently included in ExitArms.org. Also held responsible is Dassault Group, the parent company of Dassault Aviation. Other subsidiaries of Dassault Group, such as Dassault Systems, are not included.

Subsidiaries are always assigned to their current parent group, even if the group structure has changed in the 2015-2020 period. Former parent companies are left out, even if they were the parent of the responsible company at the time of an arms delivery to a warring state.

If a subsidiary has a parent company, which in turn is itself part of another parent company, then the subsidiary is not only assigned to its direct parent company, but also to its ultimate parent at the end of the group structure. The applied criteria is that each company holds at least 50% of the respective subsidiary.

ExitArms.org only looks at companies responsible for exporting arms to conflict and war zones and not at companies involved in importing. If a company exports arms to a company in a war zone, then only the exporting company is covered and not the importing company. Thus, we always assign responsibility to the foreign companies involved and not to local companies. Specifically, this means that for the export of military transport aircraft from the Czech company Aircraft Industries to Russia, we only list Aircraft Industries as responsible and not its parent company, Ural Mining & Metallurgical Company (UMMC), as it is a Russian company.

We consider as joint ventures or consortia all companies that have very few shareholders. In some exceptional cases, these shareholders are not companies but states or private individuals. Since we are only looking at corporate responsibility, only shareholders that are themselves companies are considered, and not states or private individuals. This is the case with Patria Plc and Naval Group, which we have assigned to a company as a shareholder and not to the other shareholders, which are states or private individuals.

Case studies and verified use

The case studies and the overview of weapon systems for which we could not only prove the delivery, but also the actual use in one of the wars, are based on our own research. For this purpose, well-known scientific publications, trade journals (e.g., Jane's Defence Weekly, Global Defence News, ESUT - European Security & Technology), subject-specific websites (e.g., Army Technology, Naval Technology, Defense News, Bellingcat, ENAAT, ECCHR), commercial databases, free searches on the web, primary sources of defense corporations (e.g., corporate websites, brochures), government websites (e.g., Library of Congress, Ministries of Defense) and own research were evaluated.

No Database is Perfect

We do our best to achieve a broad coverage of war-fueling companies in all regions of the world and to find and document the relevant information for each of these companies. However, gaps still exist, due to the fact that information is sometimes hard to find or simply not available. We are therefore always happy to receive any additions or corrections to further develop this database!