Africa and the global trade in illicit small arms and light weapons

Authored by: Dorcas Ettang

Handbook of Africa’s International Relations

Print publication date:  August  2013
Online publication date:  September  2013

Print ISBN: 9781857436334
eBook ISBN: 9780203803929
Adobe ISBN:


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According to the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General’s report on 5 April 2011, the trade in small arms is ‘not well regulated and can be considered the least transparent of all weapons systems’. 1 This highly secretive trade and the absence of adequate regulatory mechanisms to monitor, track and trace these weapons has increased their negative impact globally. The preference for and the negative impact of authorized and illicit small arms and light weapons on human life and property has been widely documented across the African continent and beyond. 2 Relevant statistics in 2007 show that the 30 million small arms circulating throughout Africa have been more destabilizing than the more than 200 million circulating in the USA, due to the absence of strong national controls of arms transfers, absence of economic opportunities, political instability and the deadly cycles of violence. 3

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