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THE STATE OF THE PROLIFERATION OF SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA: REGIONAL, STATE AND LOCAL CAUSES
Armed conflicts and the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) are becoming a grave threat to the peace and security of most African countries. These proliferations are too great to be ignored. Conflicts today in Sub-Saharan Africa have become far too easy due to the availability of arms. The rapid movement of small arms and light weapons across Sub-Saharan Africa and indeed the world is increasingly difficult to trace and has long lasting effects on human security. Trade in arms has become a well-established and prosperous industry. Like other industries, it has become increasingly globalized. This paper analyzes the state of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in sub-Saharan Africa by looking at the regional, state and local causes. The paper also looks at the entangled nature of supply and demand factors caused as a result of SALW proliferation and diffusion. The paper concludes that one of the most disturbing factors promoting the proliferation of small arms and light weapons is the international arms trade of these weapons by the developed countries of the world to conflict areas within Sub- Saharan Africa, embargoes notwithstanding. While noting that the state of proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Sub-Saharan Africa is a complex phenomenon, it is however argued that the problem requires a multi-dimensional and multi-institutional approach to deal with. Consequently, cooperation is needed not only between civilian and the security forces, but also, in general way, cooperation among the various governmental and non governmental institutions or organizations involved in monitoring the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
Key words: Proliferation, Small Arms and Light Weapons