The Flemish Peace Institute is an independent
institute for peace research at the Flemish Parliament.

Project DIVERT

Project DIVERT is a research project, funded by the European Union’s Internal Security Fund — Police, which focuses on the diversion of live-firing firearms from the legal domain into the illicit sphere within the European Union. Previous studies such as Project SAFTE and Fire have demonstrated that the overwhelming majority of firearms that are currently illicitly possessed or circulate on the illicit market were originally manufactured and traded legally. At a certain point in time these weapons were diverted into the illicit sphere.

Reports & webinars

Project DIVERT focuses on three specific diversion methods. Every method is analysed in detail in a specific report. The findings from the reports are also discussed during 3 thematic webinars.

1. Non-regularization (e.g. persons who illicitly possess firearms as a result of historic legacies such as a recent armed conflict or persons who have not applied for the necessary authorization after a change in legislation).
Full report available here.

On Wednesday 28/04/2021 the Flemish Peace Institute dedicated an integral DIVERT-webinar to the findings regarding non-regularised firearms in the EU. Paul James (Arquebus Solutions), Adriana Toston Diez (Driver EMPACT Firearms) & Lt.Maria Jimenez Victorio (Spanish National Firearms Focal Point) and Nils Duquet & Matteo Dressler (Flemish Peace Institute) contributed.

Rewatch the webinar here or check out below a selection of slides that were presented during the webinar.

2. Theft (e.g. from legal owners, shooting clubs, arms dealers, government stockpiles, production facilities and destruction sites).
Report available May 26 2021.
3. Fraudulent actions (such as the use of forged import or export licences, false declarations of stolen firearms or falsified registries).
Report available June 23 2021.


Project DIVERT aims to develop a more profound understanding of the size and nature of diversion of firearms and to understand the main dynamics currently at play in this process. It also aims to increase information sharing on the diversion of firearms within the EU among relevant stakeholders. Moreover, the study equally aims to identify and disseminate good practises for preventing the diversion of firearms from the legal into the illegal sphere. The project aims to evaluate current policies at national and EU level and develop policy recommendations.

Research design

The first phase 1 of the project consists of an explorative mapping of the scale and nature of the three selected diversion methods in all EU Member States. The following phase consists of an in-depth analysis of the dynamics of the three diversion methods and related policy responses in a selection of EU MS. The research findings from these two phases will be disseminated and discussed with relevant law enforcement agencies at meetings of the European multidisciplinary co-operation platform on firearms (EMPACT Firearms).

In the final phase of the project good practices will be identified and policy-recommendations will be formulated. In this phase four regional workshops will be organised across Europe for representatives from law enforcement agencies, national firearms focal points and administrative agencies responsible for arms export control and for the control of legal firearms possession and trade within the MS. This way the project aims to contribute to the sharing of information and awareness raising across institutional boundaries.

At the end of the project a final report with the research findings and policy recommendations will be published.


Project DIVERT is coordinated by the Flemish Peace Institute. The other project partners are the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Europol, the Intelligence Centre Against Terrorism and Organized Crime (CITCO) of the Spanish Ministry of Interior Affairs and the Weapons Section of the Central Directorate for the Combat of Organised Crime (DJSOC) of the Belgian Federal Judiciary Police.


For more information about the project, please contact project coordinator Nils Duquet.