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The use of small arms is omnipresent throughout all wars in Africa. Available to all, small arms cause enormous devastation, leading the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, to describe them as “weapons of mass destruction.” Since 2001, African countries have been making a real effort to develop suitable legal instruments to control small arms but this meeting of minds has not yet been followed by any impact on the ground. GRIP has acquired recognised expertise in this field and is expanding the work of its partners in Africa.

GRIP has been working with a series of processes at regional and sub-regional level through various projects and expertise:

- Regional SALW regulations (ECOWAS, ECCAS and RECSA);
- Harmonisation of national SALW regulations;
- Implementing the international traceability instrument in Africa;
- Supporting national and regional civil society networks in their work to prevent the proliferation of SALW;
- Case studies on the circulation of SALW and munitions.

Since 2001, GRIP has been coordinating RAFAL (the French-Speaking African Network on Small Arms, Conflict Prevention and Peace-building). RAFAL is involved in exchange of information, research, training, publication and distribution in order to strengthen civil society capacity in French-speaking Africa, aiming to improve common knowledge about the proliferation of small arms in order to prevent conflicts and build peace in Africa. The network currently has more than 80 members.
French-speaking African Network on Small Arms
Photo ONU
Photo ONU
The EU and small arms and light weapons in Sub-Saharan Africa (Nicolas Rousseau)

The European Union has been developing an effective policy to deal with the destructive nature of the uncontrolled accumulation of small arms and light weapons, with particular emphasis on the African continent, one of the most affected areas. The Commission and the Council are involved, through various financial instruments, at different levels. If the implementation of actions through the various regional communities seems to be the preferred approach, the 27 also intend to act at national and continental levels. Therefore, research and enhancing the coherence between the initiatives developed as well as between the two institutions are a major target for Brussels.

Other analyses:
Ammunition controls, the ATT, and Africa: Challenges, requirements, and scope for action (Holger Anders)

There is no consensus on whether ammunition should be included in the scope of the international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Most states support its inclusion and point towards the negative impact of irresponsible and poorly controlled transfers of ammunition. The insecurity and tremendous human suffering associated with such transfers in the context of armed violence in Africa are a case in point.

A few states, however, oppose the inclusion of ammunition in the ATT and argue that controlling international ammunition transfers would be unfeasible and highly cost-intensive. This report discusses the challenges of ammunition controls in Africa against the background of the international discussions on the ATT. It demonstrates that concerns regarding ammunition-inclusion in the ATT are unfounded. It also argues that complementary action will be required by African stakeholders and their international partners to strengthen ammunition controls in the region.

Other GRIP reports:

Latest GRIP books relating to the research theme "The proliferation of small arms in Africa":
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Update: 16/02/2012


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