Can Arms Embargoes Stop the Weapon Transfers to Target States? An Exploratory Meta-Analysis

Jeroen Klomp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study performs a meta-regression analysis of studies examining the efficacy of arms embargoes in stopping weapons transfers to target countries. Based on the existing body of literature, the effectiveness of arms embargoes remains a subject of debate, contingent on both the rigorous enforcement of the embargo by the sender and the embargo-busting practices of exporting countries. Drawing upon a dataset comprising over 150 estimates, the findings of this analysis suggest that there is only a weak, yet statistically significant, negative impact of arms embargoes on arms transfers to target states. This result implies that, on average, arms embargoes are only successful to a limited extent in impeding or reducing the arms trade with these nations. However, the findings also demonstrate that there is substantial heterogeneity in the embargo effect reported across the primary studies, indicating that certain embargoes still exhibit strong efficacy. Specifically, comprehensive obligatory arms embargoes that are imposed by multiple senders substantially reduce the major conventional arms transfers to target states, particularly within the first year of their imposition.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDefence and Peace Economics
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jan 2024


  • arms embargoes
  • Arms trade
  • effectiveness
  • F13
  • F14
  • F51
  • K42
  • L64
  • meta-analysis

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