Author: Fernando C. Saldivar, S.J.
Publication Type: Report
Fernando C. Saldivar, “Putting Together the Pieces: A Review of the International Normative Framework for Addressing the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Africa” (Nairobi: Vatican COVID-19 Commission, Africa Task Force, October 1, 2020), https://www.jenaafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Putting-Together-the-Pieces-A-Review-of-the-International-Normative-Framework-for-Addressing-the-Proliferation-of-Small-Arms-and-Light-Weapons-in-Africa-2-1.pdf.
The trade in small arms and light weapons (SALW) is both the least regulated and the least transparent of all weapons systems. Global disarmament efforts since the end of the Second World War have focused on nuclear nonproliferation. In fact, the “primary concern” of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) remains weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, “owing to their destructive power and the threat that they pose to humanity.” However, for Africa this lack of international attention poses an immediate and growing threat to regional security in that “small arms and light weapons have long been considered the primary tools and enablers of violence throughout the history of conflict in the continent.” As of 2018, the Small Arms Survey estimates that “African civilian actors, which include private individuals, registered businesses such as private security companies, and non-state armed groups, hold more than 40 million—or almost 80 per cent—of all small arms on the continent.” In contrast, Africa’s armed forces and law enforcement agencies are estimated to hold less than 11 million small arms. Among the 40 million civilian-held firearms in Africa, 5,841,200 are recorded as officially registered, with the status of the remainder unregistered or unclear.