External arms embargoes and their implications for government expenditure, democracy and internal conflict

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We examine how arms imports reductions due to external arms embargoes affect military expenditure, democratic quality and internal conflict in a sample of 48 countries from 1990 to 2017. We construct a theoretical model of arms restrictions influencing probabilities of peaceful and conflictual states via actions and efforts undertaken by the government and rebels to promote peace. We postulate that the effect of external arms embargoes on internal conflict is conditional, requiring empirical investigation. Our empirical analysis, based on the Panel Vector Autoregressive methods, reveals that the responses of political system and different indices of democracy to decreases in arms imports are positive, and the impact on military expenditures is negative, while the responses of education expenditures, health expenditures are positive. Despite this, our findings show that arms transfer restrictions can intensify ethnic tensions and internal conflicts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106410
Number of pages17
JournalWorld Development
Early online date20 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).


The work was done as a Part of Project # NPRP12S-0310-190280 “Economic, political and security aspects of sanctions and blockades from a target country perspective: policy lessons for Qatar and other target countries” funded by the Qatar National Research Fund. The authors appreciate the Qatar National Research Fund financial support. The authors are grateful to the editor and referees of this journal for their comments.


  • Arms imports
  • Conflict
  • Democracy
  • Military sector
  • Panel-Vector Autoregressive model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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