Challenges of Poliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons to Peace-Building in Liberia and Sierra Leone

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Ottoh, O.F
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This study focuses on the challenges of proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) to peace-building in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The study provides a critical analysis of the nature of warfare in Africa with the use of small arms and light weapons and child soldiers. It is a discourse of post-conflict peace-building as it assesses the various measures adopted in Liberia and Sierra Leone. It argues that continual availability of SALW in these countries poses a great threat to peace and stability not only of the Mano River basin area but the whole of West Africa sub-region. The work employs qualitative research design and developed a comprehensive framework for assessing the effectiveness of the measures for peace-building and for controlling the proliferation, trafficking, and misuse of small arms and light weapons. In this regard, a particular attention is focused on the strategies for reducing the demand for small arms and light weapons. The institutional framework of analysis provides the basis for comparison across the two countries in assessing the peace-building measures. The work further argues that one fundamental challenge of peace-building is weak institutions. It is the weakness of the state institutions that makes it impossible to tackle effectively the problem of proliferation of SALW. This poses a big problem to post-conflict peace-building. The growing and persistent threat to security in the Mano River region and the spread of SALW is an indication that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process is a failure of the institutions of governance. Although, there is concerted international and sub-regional efforts to curb the spread and trafficking of these illicit weapons, but such efforts have not yielded the much needed result. This study aims to fill the evidentiary gap and challenges other researchers to probe further to the approaches to promote regional security. The study draws on the existing statistical and qualitative findings in the fieldworks in both countries. Focusing on these two countries is premised on threats of security by influx of arms from different parts of the globe. This is in view of global arms trade and transfers which underscores the reason for the proliferation of these weapons in countries emerging from war. It is estimated that over 600 million small arms are in circulation worldwide and Africa continent harbours about 100 million while West Africa has over 8 million. It argues that 60 percent of small arms in circulation are in the civilian hands. This poses a big problem to post-conflict peace-building. Given the difficulties in peace -building, there is need for a more systematic and pragmatic approaches, especially in the control of the spread of small arms and light weapons. It is therefore, important to adopt the strategy of building regional and state capacity. This involves building state and regional institutions. It suggests that building of civil society organizations at both national and regional levels will help to address the problem of small arms. This approach, the work argues will be a departure from Weber’s emphasis of the state as an autonomous organization charged with the responsibility of controlling the instruments of violence; without taking into cognizance, the role of civil society in the direction. This view still holds sway with respect to present peace-building efforts. Sustainable peace-building is based on reconciliation of various functions, through the structures, processes, and training of people. This is in line with the argument of transformation school of thought, which argues for the reconciliation of various factions in the war-torn society. It concludes that poor management of stockpiles and porous borders are major factors for the proliferation of SALW. The fight against illicit trafficking and misuse of SALW can be successful when the demand measures are fully implemented with the involvement of civil society organization.
A Thesis Submitted to the School of Postgraduate Studies, University of Lagos
Proliferation of Small Arms , Weapons , Peace Building , Liberia , Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Social sciences::Political science::Peace and development research
Ottoh, O.F (2010). Challenges of Poliferation of small Arms and Light Weapons to Peace-Building in Liberia and Sierra Leone. A Thesis Submitted to University of Lagos School of Postgraduate Studies Phd Thesis and Dissertation, 388pp.