Friday, October 2, 2009

Disarmament and Arms Control in Africa

My Review of the article;

The article aims to review and identify the successes and failures of the measures taken by African nations in the issue of arms proliferation. The 3 main measures adopted by most African nations have been; creation of inter-state controlling agencies, bilateral arms collection & destruction processes, as well as reforming arms control legislation. Lamb and Dye begin by acknowledging that "The arms trade lacks transparency, which makes it impossible to analyze the exact nature and dynamics of this global enterprise" (3). Illegal transactions are either disguised as legal ones using forged documents, or entirely concealed in the shipment of legal goods. There is also limited information available to the public on African nations' imports and exports of arms.

The three most conflict-prone regions of Africa are reviewed in the article, which demonstrates that UN Security Council Resolutions have been markedly ineffective in deterring various factions and even governments from illicit arms dealing. In the case of Somalia, foreign aid aimed to the national Transitional Federal Government (TFG) aimed at helping the government defend itself from the opposition, has been discovered to end up in the hands of the opposition groups themselves. In Darfur, even after the eventual restoration of state government, officials have been found to incorporate aspects of pro-government militia into their forming security troops.

There is no international agreement that currently governs international arms trade, however, in the year 2000 the 53 member states of the Organization of African Unity met in Mali and drafted an international declaration against the illegal proliferation, circulation & trafficking of small arms and light weapons. This was to be followed by national implementation, which has been more successful in some states than others. Regional agreements have also been reached in West, East and South Africa. While the formal structures required by the West African ECOWAS convention have been established, actual implementation is yet to begin, perhaps due to the fact that only 6 of the required 9 states needed to legally bind the convention have ratified it.

Southern Africa’s SADC arms control protocol was the first legally binding regional agreement, and seems successful thus far, despite concerns about its source for funding being NGO's and donor governments. Like ECOWAS and SADC, East Africa’s RECSA receives a large portion of its funding from external sources, which leaves continued operation in doubt. Nonetheless, RECSA has set more specific guidelines and targets, such as the branding of government SALW with ID numbers kept in a RECSA database. Regional organizations have also been created for better implementation, however, conflict in Darfur, Somalia and the DRC have kept the demand high for SALW.
While acknowledging the solutions attempted by African nations in the past decade, it is obvious that there is much more work to be done and funds to be raised towards achieving pronounced success. The proliferation of SALW represents a step back for every step forward taken towards sustainable peace for African nations. The lack of funding for state organizations that aim to reduce this proliferation is also a setback and does not lend to the successful capture and destruction of illegal SALW.

Lamb and Dye comprehensively review both the failing and successful points in the African disarmament effort, shedding light on the frequently ineffective, and the unrecognized successes. This review is important to this course because it links globalization to the arms proliferation in Africa. In the discussion of setbacks to arms control, the issue of smuggling often arises. Smuggling of illicit SALW has likely become more effortless when aided by far-reaching communication and knowledge networks facilitated by globalization processes. The violation of arms embargoes was evident in all 3 conflict-prone regions examined, and often attributed to violation by neighboring nations of the country under embargo.

Globalization has as a strong point, the encouraged relationships between otherwise detached nations. With economic and political relations, comes dependency, and such dependency, when negative, can be an influence in foreign states funding the opposition faction in a conflict-prone nation. In one case, the article mentions that Somali opposition factions may be funded by private donors from the Middle East- an example of the negative effects of economic relationships encouraged by globalization. While globalization’s positive effects are present, this article suggests that the negative effects are magnified and even overshadow the positive ones in certain regions of the world.

Find the article here
More on arms proliferation... nuclear arms in Africa? you bet!

This map depicts countries who have signed the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (Treaty of Pelindaba) as of Aug 2009..not enough

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