This report outlines the key comparative learning points that were gained as a result of International Alert’s Monitoring the Implementation of Small Arms Controls (MISAC) project. The project examined the process of implementation of regional and international SALW control measures in Eurasia, Latin America and West Africa. The reports and research upon which this report is based are contained in the attached CD Rom. Each country report also contains country specific recommendations and it is hoped that the reader will refer to these reports when they want to explore the issues discussed in a country or regional specific context. This report however is designed to give the reader a global and comparative review of both the key impediments to the implementation of SALW control agreements as well as a comparative understanding of the different requirements faced by officials who are implementing these measures.
The report examines the modalities of the agreements addressed in this research. There is a thumbnail description of each agreement as well as an outline of the key issues that are addressed by each instrument. The texts of these instruments can be accessed on the attached CD Rom. A key issue that this report identifies is that the reporting requirements in different agreements are often very complex and while there is often duplication this is not necessarily very easy for the officials responsible to implement. It therefore suggests that attention should be given to standardising reporting requirements as well as identifying the need to assist states in producing reports. The lack of legally binding agreements especially in Eurasia is also a concern which needs to be addressed.
The report highlights the different regional experiences of implementation. In the case of Eurasia there have been significant improvements in the implementation of agreements. It is interesting to note that this region has benefited from some of the most concerted international support as well as having some of the greatest economic incentives to implement international agreements. However, the interlinked nature of SALW proliferation with other issues such as security sector reform, corruption, drugs, criminality and terrorism needs to be better understood and a holistic approach to SALW work is needed. Further, in the case of Central Asia there is a need for greater research on the nature of SALW proliferation as the concentration up to now in the region has been, understandably, focused on weapons of mass destruction. In the case of Latin America there have also been positive moves in terms of addressing SALW proliferation. The OAS has been active in the region and there has been significant capacity developed both within states and among civil society organisations. The relative wealth of the region has also greatly helped as has the strength of many state institutions. Corruption and criminality continue to be an issue and there is a need for greater regulation of the private security industry especially with regards to use of firearms. Implementation in West Africa has probably been the weakest of the regions covered in the MISAC project. This has been for a number of reasons not least the lack of resources (both financial and people) available. UN regional support through the PCASED organisation was also the least successful regional support project of the three regions examined (compared to SEESAC and UN-LiREC) partially due to a drop in donor confidence in the organisation and partly due to a lack of SALW expertise of some of the people who were recruited into the organisation. ECOWAS and the UN are attempting to address this issue in the new institution of ECOSAP but this remains an issue of concern. However, the trends within West Africa are positive both at a national and regional level and therefore there are good grounds to be optimistic about the future.
The report also contains an analysis of those cross regional issues that became apparent during the course of the research. This includes the importance of building networks between implementers at the national, regional and international level as well as the need to increase public and official ownership of SALW control measures through support of awareness raising and capacity building projects. It is also important to identify methods of making it in the interest of states to implement agreements through positive inducements and to foster greater relationships between civil society groups and implementation agencies. The issues of SALW brokering and stockpile management need to be included in regional SALW agreements. A key entry point towards developing a holistic approach to SALW control identified by the report is in including the issue in SSR projects as well as recognising the often neglected area of the privatisation of security within such a policy.
The key recommendations of the report are that:
- Donors and regional bodies should support mechanisms through which networks of key implementers can meet with each other in order to facilitate informal communications and bilateral experience sharing in both formal and informal settings.
- Greater attention should be given to fostering cross-border cooperation and communication between implementing officials of neighbouring countries.
- A major barrier to the implementation of international SALW controls continues to be a lack of awareness of these initiatives among civil society organisations and implementing officials. Attention should therefore be given to targeted awareness raising and capacity building.
- SALW control initiatives will be greatly aided if there are clear gains in doing so for those states implementing initiatives. It may be necessary either to support awareness raising of officials and politicians to indicate what such gains are, or else to give attention to the positive economic consequences of successful implementation.
- It is important to ensure that donor support is coordinated in such a way that cooperation between implementing agencies and civil society groups is encouraged.
- International SALW control instruments, where relevant, need to be updated to include brokering, especially in those countries that are neither producers nor exporters.
- Stockpile management is a key tool to help limit the entry of licit weapons into the illicit market and should be supported more robustly.
- SALW control can be a useful entry point in an SSR project and the issue of improving the capacity of those law enforcement officials implementing SALW control measures should be considered.
- It is important to take into account private security companies in any SSR strategy and examine the training and professionalisation of employees, as well as encourage best practice in terms of SALW usage and storage.
- Now that it has entered into force much more international advocacy work needs to be carried out to encourage more governments to ratify the UN Firearms Protocol.