n Conflict Trends - Arms trafficking in West Africa : the role of civil society in security sector reform

Volume 2008, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


Between 1989 and 1996, small arms and light weapons (SALWs) were the most commonly used weapons - and in some cases the only weapons used - in conflicts fought worldwide. Small arms, which are built for use by one individual, include revolvers and pistols, rifles and carbines, submachine guns, assault rifles and light machine guns. Light weapons are used by several people and range from heavy machine guns to portable anti-aircraft guns.

With heightened trafficking in small arms in West Africa and with the porous borders between different countries, it has become increasingly difficult to address the spread of these weapons. Small arms have been recycled in the West African countries of Nigeria, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea and Burkina Faso. Rebel groups and armies supply each other with arms in past and present conflict situations in countries such as Côte d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Liberia. In the end, the proliferation of these weapons undermines security sector reform (SSR).

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