Small Arms & Light Weapons: Case Studies
In order to understand the reasons behind civilian possession of weapons, it is important to examine the issue from the demand perspective and to look in particular at factors such as individual and group preferences for weapons, the monetary and non-monetary resources in order to acquire weapons, real and relative prices of firearms. The 2005 study showed that demand for arms is justified by the need to ensure ones own safety, as well as that of the family and property. Causes for the perception of insecurity, among Burundians, also varies from crime (in Bujumbura-Mairie province) to the residue of the civil war (for instance, Bujumbura Rural faces sporadic confrontations between the army and the Hutu People's Liberation PartyNational Liberation Forces PalipehutuFNL who has refused to disarm).4
Communities continue to have little confidence in the police and the army, whom they perceived as contributing to the general climate of insecurity. They thought that the police and, to a slightly lesser extent, the army lend weapons to criminal groups or perpetrate armed crime themselves. People feel that the only way violent crime will diminish from the community is by removing weapons through disarmament programs.5
For more information:
Forbes, Adam. "Rapid Assessment of the Impact and Perceptions of Small Arms in the Burundi interior." DanChurchAid and the Conseil National des Eglises du Burundi (CNEB).
Pzard, Stphanie and Nicolas Florquin. "Small Arms in Burundi Disarming the Civilian Population in Peacetime". Special Report No. 7. Geneva: Small Arms Survey, 2007.
Street, Annie, Jennifer Smith, and Howard Mollet. "Consolidating the Peace? Views from Sierra Leone and Burundi on the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission." Study by ActionAid, CAFOD, and CARE international, 2007.
Cercle d'Initiative pour une Vision Commune (CIVIC)
International Crisis Group, Burundi
ITEKA: Ligue Burundaise des Droits de lHomme
The Multi-Country Demobilization and Reintegration Program
The Transitional Foundation for Peace and Future Research, Burundi
The UN Peacebuilding Commission, Burundi
Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services Healing from the Heart of Africa (THARS)
[Back to Top]
The Solomon Islands' National Peace Council's Weapons-Free Village Campaign aims to garner public support for weapons-free status in more than 1,200 villages in the conflict-affected provinces of Guadlcanal and Malaita. The multi-year project, supported by the UNDP among others, is complemented by an initiative to demobilize Special Constables and militants, and to assist them in their long-term reintegration. Moreover, the program harnessed village leaders, police, and church authorities in recognition of the importance of collective decision-making associated with various tribal and clan subgroups in Solomon Island society. Its relative success, measured by a demonstrated reduction in firearms-related homicides and injury as well as insecurity, is the product of deliberate support to customary institutions, and the harnessing of particular values and norms of the communities involved to promote the goals of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR).
Papua New Guinea
Following the explosion of violence in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea from 1998 onwards, a number of interventions have sought to promote weapons reduction and reintegration among competing tribal factions. In the absence of a strong deterrence (e.g. police or defense forces), much less a clear government commitment to improving safety, local initiatives mediated by stakeholders such as faith-based and women groups, as well as development agencies, have quietly emerged.
Between 2001 and 2002, an informal "Peace Agreement" was brokered between two tribes-- the Wogia and Unjamap-- and a "Mendi Peace Commission" was chaired by local businessmen along with the bishops of both the Catholic and United Churches. A transparent process of reconciliation was organized to cement the Peace Agreement. Both tribes sought forgiveness in public ceremonies, repeating their vows to cease all hostilities, to allow freedom of movement, and to respect tribal boundaries. Commitments were signed (and enforced) to "dismiss" mercenary gunmen, entrust all firearms to the control of tribal leaders, cease the public display of offensive weapons, and cooperate with police to contain alcohol and drug abuse. More than two years after a public ceremony attended by more than 10,000 people, the Mendi Peace Agreement has survived without any serious breach.
For more information:
For a point of view from the Solomon Islands National Council of Women (SINCW)
Nelson, Carol and Robert Muggah. "Solomon Islands: Evaluating the Weapons Free Village Campaign." Geneva: Small Arms Survey, November 2004.
Nelson, Carol. "Women and Disarmament: What can be learnt from conflicts in Solomon Islands, Bougainville and PNG?" Presented at the In the Right Hands Seminar, 21-24 February 2006.
Nichols, Ryan. "BCPR Strategic Review: Solomon Islands." Geneva: Small Arms Survey, February 2006.
United Nations Development Programme. "Support to DDR and Small Arms Collection in the Solomon Islands." Geneva: UNDP/BPCR, 2003.
Papua New Guinea:
Muggah, Robert. "Diagnosing Demand: Assessing the Motivations and Means for Firearms acquisition in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea." The Australian National University, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, State, Society and Governance in Melanesia, Discussion Papers 2004/7
LeBrun, Emile and Robert Muggah, eds. "Silencing Guns: Local Perspectives on Small Arms and Armed Violence in Rural Pacific Islands Communities." Occasional Paper 15. Geneva: Small Arms Survey, 2005.
[Back to Top] 6 However, cattle raiding has undergone a "profound transformation" from its roles of demonstrating new warriors bravery and expanding the community cattle herd to an illicit and violent, cash-market-oriented enterprise.7 In the 1980s and 1990s, partly due to the involvement of small arms and light weapons, cattle rustling became intensified and violence within the community and neighboring communities became aggravated.8 Community members acknowledged that the availability of these weapons intensified conflicts, instability, crime and banditry. According to interviews conducted among the Kuria community, there were about 1000-2000 guns for a population of 150,000 or one gun for every 75 people.9 The small arms originated from the 1960s tribal police of the colonial government whom the government armed to guard against cattle rustling in the community; they in turn leased their arms to cattle rustlers.10 The Tanzania-Uganda war in 1980s generated the influx of more weapons (mostly from demobilized soldiers),11 replacing poison-capped arrows traditionally used by cattle rustlers.12 In recent years, guns also came from Somali traders in Kuria.
This situation raised fundamental questions regarding the function of the state in terms of security. The inability of the police to deal effectively with criminal elements and the communitys loss of faith in the states ability to maintain security led to the introduction of Sungusungu initiative as an alternative mechanism to deal with the problem of small arms.13 The term Sungusungu is a Swahili word "for a species of large black biting ant."14 The Sungusungu is an indigenous system of governance, which may have been copied from Tanzania,15 was used to deal with conflicts, wars and violent crimes before the advent of modern governance.16 The systems composition, process and methods originated from iritongo, an indigenous age-old local government mechanism. It had three components, corresponding to three levels of power: the incharma, which takes the appeal from iritongo; the iritongo which investigates, judges and punishes; and the ichisaiga which has been replaced by sungusungu and acts as the enforcement mechanism of iritongo. The system combines prosecution and enforcement responsibilities. "The process of an oath involves the suspect standing on seven magic sticks placed on top of a bare anthill completely naked in full view of his relatives and friends who must attend. The oath-taker raised his hands and recited the words: 'I am not the person who stole the complaint's property. If I am lying, I'll be destroyed by the oath.' The complaint will then follow the same process and say the following: 'I know the suspect stole my cattle. If I'm accusing him falsely, I'll be destroyed by the oath.' It is believed by the community members that the curse does not only affect the suspect alone; it can affect other family members and relatives and even his descendants."17
The system enables local people to "dispense, to all intents and purposes, with the costly, inefficient, and corrupt services of the police, whom many villagers dismiss as 'useless'. In their place it provides them with 'law enforcers' who are of the community and accountable to it. It dramatically reduces the out-of-pocket costs of law enforcement, because the fees paid to sungusungu are lower than the bribes habitually demanded by the police, and because all fees and fines collected by sungusungu remain within the community, to finance not only the work of sungusungu but also other worthy village projects. And, lastly, it enables local people to punish fellow villagers who have transgressed the law-their friends and neighbors-by administering beatings and levying fines, but without handing them over to the formal justice system, which they see as indifferent, if not hostile, to their needs and over which they have no control."18
For more information:
Fleisher, Michael L. "Cattle Raiding and Household Demography among the Kuria of Tanzania." Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 69, No. 2 (1999): 238-255.
Fleisher, Michael L. "'Sungusungu': State-Sponsored Village Vigilante Groups among the Kuria of Tanzania." Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 70, No. 2 (2000): 209-228.
Heald, Suzette. "Agricultural Intensification and the Decline of Pastoralism: A Case Study from Kenya." Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 69, No. 2 (1999): 213-237.
Human Rights Watch. Playing with Fire Weapons Proliferation, Political Violence, and Human Rights in Kenya. New York: HRW, May 2002.
Marwa, Peter. "Sungusungu in Kuria: An Indigenious Approach towards Control and Management of Small Arms." In Brief 23: Small Arms in the Horn of Africa: Challenges, Issues and Perspectives, edited by Kiflemariam Gebre-Wold and Isabelle Masson. Bonn: Bonn International Center for Conversion, March 2002.
Njoroge, Mbugua. "Small Arms and Light Weapons in Kenya." At Issue Ezine, Vol. 5, No. 2 (February 2007).
Subow, Rukia. The Proliferation of Small Arms and Pastoralists in the Horn of Africa. Bonn: Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC), 2002.
[Back to Top] 19 Traditional rituals can play a crucial role in the reintegration process in its different dimensions. In Mozambique, mediums and traditional healers (kimbanda) helped with the peaceful reintegration of former combatants and former child soldiers, through purification rituals involving the whole community. Referring to concepts of pollution and purification, they not only made it possible to designate and describe the period of violence as 'abnormal, 'as 'unacceptable,' but also to redefine the rules indispensable for the groups coexistence and survival.
These actions demonstrate the success of strategies, which are deeply rooted in the social and cultural context, and take into consideration the subjective and psychiatric dimensions of the re-integration process. Whereas the Reintegration Support Scheme (RSS) employed by the UNDP probably helped combatants become reintegrated in their communities by providing them with a steady source of spending, most observers consider the role played by traditional healers as key in some of the "success stories" registered in that country, in particular for child soldiers. At least some of them benefited from a true reintegration in their status of children, although they were generally not reintegrated in their home community.
For more information:
Honwana, Alcinda. "Children of War: Understandings of War and War Cleansing in Mozambique and Angola." In Civilians in War, ed. Simon Chesterman. New York: Lynne Rienner, 2001.
West, Harry G. "Creative Destruction and Sorcery of Construction: Power, Hope and Suspicion in Post-war Mozambique." Cahiers dEtudes Africaines 37, no. 147 (1997): 65798.
Gibbs, Sara. "Postwar Social Reconstruction in Mozambique: Reframing Childrens Experiences of Trauma and Healing." In Rebuilding Societies after Civil War, ed. Krishna Kumar. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1997: 22738.
Stohl, Rachel with Sarah Aird, Laura Barnitz, Jimmie Briggs, Rebecca Catalla, Boia Efraime Junior, Antoinette Errante, Heang Path, Stephanie Powell, Frank Smyth, and Christina Torsein. "Putting Children First: Building a Framework for International Action to Address the Impact of Small Arms on Children." Ottawa: Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 1999.
[Back to Top]
The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) attempted to address the problem by creating a "Hunting and Recreational Weapon" campaign in 2003. The media carried advertisements of the Weapons Registration Office as the only entity responsible for issuing registration cards for hunting and recreational weapons. The initial campaign initially allowed civilians to register as many guns as they wanted at local police stations without fear prosecution. In return, civilians would receive a card valid for two years granting legal permission to own the weapon. Over 20,000 weapons were registered and when the grace period was over in May 2003, the registration process continued, but officials reserved the right to impose legal consequences. However, prosecution for illegally held weapons rarely occurred. Moreover, when legal mechanisms are ineffective and unenforceable, it can be futile in deterring the proliferation of illicit SALW.
For more information:
Khakee, Anna and Nicolas Florquin. Kosovo and the Gun: A Baseline Assessment of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Kosovo. Geneva: UNDP and Small Arms Survey, 2003.
KFOR. UN-Sponsored Weapons Amnesty. KFOR Press Release, August 30, 2003.
Quin, David, Vladimir Jovanovski, Ana Petruseva, Naser Miftari, Artan Mustafa, Jeta Xharra, Ilir Aliaj, and Lazar Semini. "Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia: Armed to the Teeth." Institute for War and Peace Reporting and Saferworld,November 27, 2003.
Mustafa, Artan, and Jeta Xharra. "Balkan Crisis Report: Kosovo Gun Amnesty Setback." Institute for War and Peace Reporting, October 16, 2003.
Krause, Keith. "Peace, Security and Development in Post-Conflict Environments." Security Dialogue 36, no. 4 (2005): 447-462.
NATO Kosovo Force
1. Annie Street, Jennifer Smith, and Howard Mollet, "Consolidating the Peace? Views from Sierra Leone and Burundi on the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission" (United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, 2007), 23.
2. Stphanie Pzard and Nicolas Florquin, "Small Arms in Burundi: Disarming the Civilian Population in Peacetime," Special Report No. 7 (Geneva: Small Arms Survey, August 2007), 1-2.
3. Ibid, 2.
4. Ibid, 4.
5. Street, et al, "Consolidating the Peace? Views from Sierra Leone and Burundi on the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission," 4.
6. Suzette Heald, "Agricultural Intensification and the Decline of Pastoralism: A Case Study from Kenya," Africa: Journal of the International African Institute Vol. 69, No. 2 (1999): 229.
7. Michael L. Fleisher, "'Sungusungu': State-Sponsored Village Vigilante Groups among the Kuria of Tanzania," Africa: Journal of the International African Institute Vol. 70, No. 2 (2000): 213.
8. Peter Marwa, "Sungusungu in Kuria: An Indigenous Approach towards Control and Management of Small Arms," in Brief 23: Small Arms in the Horn of Africa: Challenges, Issues and Perspectives, ed. Kiflemariam Gebre-Wold and Isabelle Masson (Bonn: Bonn International Center for Conversion, March 2002), 24.
9. Ibid, 31.
10. Ibid, 26.
12. Heald, "Agricultural Intensification and the Decline of Pastoralism: A Case Study from Kenya."
13. Marwa, "Sungusungu in Kuria: An Indigenous Approach towards Control and Management of Small Arms," 24.
14. Michael L. Fleisher, "Cattle Raiding and Household Demography Among The Kuria of Tanzania," Africa: Journal of the International African Institute Vol. 69, No. 2 (1999): 242.
15. Fleisher, "'Sungusungu': State-Sponsored Village Vigilante Groups among the Kuria of Tanzania."
16. Marwa, "Sungusungu in Kuria: An Indigenous Approach towards Control and Management of Small Arms," 25.
17. Ibid, 28.
18. Fleisher, "'Sungusungu': State-Sponsored Village Vigilante Groups among the Kuria of Tanzania."
19. Stohl, Rachel, with Sarah Aird, Laura Barnitz, Jimmie Briggs, Rebecca Catalla, Boia Efraime Junior, Antoinette Errante, Heang Path, Stephanie Powell, Frank Smyth, and Christina Torsein, "Putting Children First: Building A Framework for International Action to Address the Impact of Small Arms on Children," (Ottawa: Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 1999) 9.