Today any kind of information can be searched successful online except illegal information that is banned by the government because of security reasons. Well, that is not always true. Take the term “small arms”, a huge number of results appear, but is there any information about the ways to control it?
Simply click on http://www.AllAfrica.com to find various news outlets reporting on small arms programs in many countries including Nigeria, Libya, Ethiopia, and the list goes on. Sometimes the programs are funded by the U.N. or international NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) like IANSA, http://www.iansa.org and other times conducted by individual African governments. Either way, its all a sideshow and doesn’t address the root problem.
Small Arms trafficking is big business these days and Africa isn’t exactly the beacon of tough import/export controls. But that’s not the only reason for proliferation in Africa. The root problem is personal security, or lack thereof in African nation states. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) [http://www.ds-osac.org/], and other outlets frequently report insurgency violence ranging from kidnappings to all out pillaging and mass murder. If a government cannot protect its people from insurgents, the people will arm themselves to protect themselves and their families. With the exception of South Africa, most nations are unable to protect their citizens from insurgents and criminal gangs. Governments and private individuals are known for hiring mercenaries to fight in especially hostile environments. In fact, BBC News reported in April 2006 that the South African government has passed a law banning SA citizens from working as mercenaries unless they obtain SA government permission, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/crossing_continents/4877098.stm.
Small arms proliferation talk in Africa will not provide the security necessary in an environment where innocent men, women and children are dying at the hands of ruthless insurgents and corrupt government officials. What is needed is tough government action and not just laws, but law enforcement or even military enforcement if necessary. Human Rights groups must be commended on their efforts to reduce arms proliferation and violence in many African states, but the solution requires a sovereign government with broad powers that has the means to enforce the rule of law. Without it, proliferation control will fail and the genocides and civil wars that have devastated many states in Africa will continue.