Conflict Armament Research (CAR) field investigation teams document illicit weapons, ammunition, and related materiel in conflict-affected locations and trace their supply sources. Teams inspect weapons in a variety of situations—whether recovered by state security forces, surrendered at the cessation of hostilities, cached, or held by insurgent forces.

Documenting ammunition in South Sudan


CAR’s field investigation teams document all items photographically and date and geo-reference the documentation sites.  CAR also works with contracted local data collectors (LDCs) which it has trained to support data gathering in sensitive locations. CAR occasionally uses information and photographs from social media, but investigations are not based on them, since the provenance of such data is often difficult to verify.


CAR traces only a portion of the items it documents in the field. If numerous individual items were to be traced, an excessive burden would need to be placed on the national governments and manufacturing companies concerned. Furthermore, some of the documented items are untraceable. CAR contacts all governments and companies substantively referenced in its reporting, and retains all documents, interview notes, emails, recordings, photographs, and other data obtained from third parties in a secure, encrypted format. CAR’s sources provide all such items willingly and with full knowledge of their use by CAR.


CAR supplements formal weapon tracing with analysis of physical evidence gathered from the weapons themselves and that of related materiel; obtaining government, commercial, transport, and other documents; and interviewing individuals with knowledge or experience of the equipment transfers under scrutiny. CAR does not undertake undercover work or use other clandestine investigation methods. For privacy reasons, CAR’s publications do not refer to private individuals by name, except in the case of well-known public officials. Unless specified, no reference to the names of countries of manufacture, manufacturing companies, intermediary parties, distributors, or intended end users implies illegality or wrongdoing on the part of that named entity.