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Kiribati is located in the central Pacific region and comprises 21 inhabited islands lying no more than three metres above sea level. The country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1979. Since then, it has been affected by economic fluctuations, a dominant but inefficient public sector, demographic problems, and natural shocks.1 Kiribati does not have military forces. The Police and Prisons Service is responsible for maintaining internal security.2 Despite its isolation, the country is not immune to security challenges, such as human trafficking, terrorism, domestic violence, and illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.3 Foreign criminal networks use local fishermen to move illicit arms in Kiribati waters, though the transit of arms does not occur to a noticeable degree.4

The country’s guiding gun control legislation includes the Arms and Ammunition Ordinance of 1977. The country has signed but not yet ratified the Arms Trade Treaty.5


1 Stephen Kidd and Ueantabo Mackenzie, Kiribati Country Case Study. (Canberra: Australian Agency for International Development, 2012),

2 US Department of State, Kiribati 2021 Human Rights Report (Washington, DC: US Department of State, 2021),

3 “Kiribati Views on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons,” Parliamentarians for Global Action, April 27, 2018,

4 “Global Organized Crime Index: Kiribati,” Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, 2021,

5 Philip Alpers and Miles Lovell, Kiribati – Gun Facts, Figures and the Law (, Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, 2022),

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Map of Kiribati

Further information

Accidental explosions

Since the Small Arms Survey began collecting data in 1979, no accidental explosions have been reported in Kiribati.

Source: “Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS) Database,” Small Arms Survey, updated December 15, 2021,

Cases of diversion

Insufficient information on cases of diversion in Kiribati.


Insufficient information on the disposal of ammunition in Kiribati.


To further enhance safe and secure ammunition management, the following needs have been identified for Kiribati:

  • Reviewing relevant legislation to prevent illicit trade in small arms and light weapons; and
  • Strengthening the enforcement of such legislation.

Source: “Kiribati Views on Illicit Trade,” Parliamentarians for Global Action.

Published Date: Monday 21 of August 2023