Tag Archives: SCID

Moving On – SCID Blog Developments

It is with mixed feelings that I write this post to announce changes in this Blog. It is difficult to be reminded of the wonderful SCID community we built together, now that I am working on a different programme. However, I intend to maintain this Blog for everyone associated with SCID and for anyone with an interest in conflict resolution, peacebuilding and development. I hope, therefore, that my departure to Monash University will broaden the networks, discussion and action on issues related to security, conflict and international development. Nonetheless, it has been difficult to formally leave SCID.
img_7780I was solely responsible for developing the SCID programme from scratch over a 2-year period and delivering it since its inception in 2012. I am very attached to it for this reason and also because of the inspirational students I had the pleasure of working with – immensely hard working (mostly working in difficult jobs in conflict-affected environments and still finding time to complete a Master’s degree); dedicated to giving their all to addressing the challenges of conflict and to continue learning and progressing; uncomplaining (even when the harsh realities of working in conflict zones hit home); and brilliant in their insights, compassion and commitment. I am also attached to the programme because of the wonderful people that comprise the SCID Panel of Experts, a large group of leading international experts in conflict resolution and peacebuilding. I established the Panel of Experts in 2013 in order to enrich the learning experience of students and bridge the gap that often exists between academia and practice. It has been a pleasure and an honour to work with such wonderful, dynamic and gifted people, who have added enormous value to the SCID programme. It was also great to work with Professor Adrian Beck, whose brilliant and innovative ideas (not least to develop the SCID App), tenacity, diplomacy, and unwavering support were inspiring and meant a great deal to me. Lastly, but by no means least, the Course Administrators, notably Val Findlay, were the backbone of the course; endlessly providing support, guidance and help to students, Panel members and staff (i.e. me!) whenever needed.

img_7798My main motivation in developing the SCID course was to deliver the type of course I would have wanted to do while I was a practitioner, equipping me with the skills and knowledge that would have benefitted me, in a way that would have kept my attention and enabled me to continue working in the field while studying. I hope the course has also enabled useful networks to be developed, as well as underscored the importance of bridging the worlds of academia, policy and practice. Moreover, my motivation was to develop a course focussed on building security after conflict which integrated human rights issues, demonstrating the intrinsic relationship between human rights and security – a course which showed that often those engaged in protecting and promoting human rights issues are on the same page and addressing the same issues as those engaged in the security sector. I hoped that, as a result, the course would have an impact on the field, as a result of the continued work of SCID graduates. While working in the field I was often frustrated that the differences rather than the similarities between these two groups of actors were often focussed upon, to the detriment of what we were mostly all trying to do. It has therefore meant a great deal to me that many of the excellent Master’s theses written by SCID graduates, who are primarily middle-to-senior management level security professionals, have been on subjects related to human rights, gender equality and security sector governance.

img_7808I am, therefore, sad to no longer work on the SCID programme or with the wonderful people associated with it. I am happy, however, to be in a place which encourages innovation, academia-industry links, and impact in the field. I also consider the move to Monash University to be an opportunity to broaden the networks that have already been established through SCID, its students and the Panel of Experts. This Blog will therefore become a resource where people can keep in touch and share thoughts on issues related to security, conflict and international development – and it will continue to be open to anyone to follow and contribute to. I will also be encouraging my new students on the Master in International Development Practice (MIDP) to follow and contribute, in due course. I expect some very interesting discussions will follow and networks will usefully broaden.

Thanks to all former and current SCID students and members of the Panel of Experts for making my work so enjoyable and worthwhile – and I hope we continue to keep in touch, not least through this Blog. I look forward to reading your posts and hearing your news – please do post updates and reflections; I know I am not alone in wanting to hear from you. I hope you are all keeping safe and well.

Best wishes, Eleanor

img_7738Photos: Melbourne’s White Night (Feb 2017) – a celebration of creativity with four creative pillars: Inclusion, Accessibility, Engagement and Innovation.

‘Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive.  When the destructive analysis of day is gone, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again.’ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

UN International Day of Peace

dan-smithOn the occasion of the UN International Day of Peace, Dan Smith (Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Manchester, and former Secretary General of International Alert) has uploaded an excellent blog post on the current state of global armed conflict and progress towards peace. There are some clear correlations with the conflict predictions and factors which are said to contribute to conflict risks, which are currently being posted to the Blackboard Discussion Board by newly-enrolled SCID students. I would suggest that while Colombia is one of the most positive current examples of how peace can be found in the most intractable of conflicts, there are still significant risks present in Colombia (notably high levels of organised crime and corruption, and massive socio-economic inequalities) which are not adequately addressed by the peace agreement and, if left unaddressed, may compromise the peacebuilding process.

This post also includes SIPRI’s summary reflection on conflict and peace building in 2016, which is also very informative –




SCID Alumni

Hi everyone

Just to encourage all current and former SCID students to stay in contact after you graduate, not least to remain part of the excellent network we have of those affiliated to the SCID programme. As mentioned on the alumni page of this Blog, do let me know if you would like to be part of the formal SCID alumni and broader alumni of the Department of Criminology (email me on eg132@le.ac.uk with your name and email address). Also let me know if you want to be on the JISCMail group after you graduate and continue being signed up as an author to the SCID Blog.

You might also want to join the SCID (University of Leicester) LinkedIn Group – https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8491050 and the Department of Criminology Students and Alumni LinkedIn Group – https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7470047/profile.

For further details, please see the poster recently developed to profile SCID Alumni within the Department in Leicester. Thank you very much to Tim Ford and Ishaq Ibrahim who very kindly responded to a request for information and who are featured on an Alumni poster which will be displayed in the Department.alumni

SCID Panel of Experts – Online Guest Lecture – Steven Smith MBE – The Global Humanitarian Harm from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)

This is the 14th Online Guest Lecture by members of the SCID Panel of Experts. Steven Smith MBE presents a lecture entitled The Global Humanitarian Harm from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

steven smithSteven Smith is the Chief Executive of Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), a UK-based, international NGO. In this role, he has overseen a broad range of activities, including agricultural training for former combatants in Liberia, landmine clearance in Western Sahara, arms control measures in Sierra Leone, and armed violence reduction programmes in Burundi.

In this Lecture, Steve talks about the role of his organisation, AOAV, in mine action and the global threat posed by IEDs. Steve discusses the number of casualties and how casualty rates compare over time, in different countries, and according to the type of weapon used. The Lecture also considers the different users and primary target locations, as well as detonation methods (for example, suicide attack or victim-activated). The Lecture refers to various incidents (such as the Moon Market bombings in Lahore and suicide bombings in Nigeria).

Steve’s analysis shows that IEDs are the weapon of choice for non-state actors, civilians are casualties more often than armed actors, and that the worst attacks happen in populated areas. Steve also underscores that behind each statistic is a person killed or injured. Steve also draws attention to the fact that harm is not just physical: commerce, infrastructure, education, and families all suffer from the use of IEDs.

Steve draws the Lecture to a close by analysing what can be done to address the threat posed by IEDs, concluding that key preventative measures include stigmatisation, control of precursor materials, and security of military stockpiles.

Click below to access Steve’s Lecture. NB Should the presentation not run automatically or the audio not work, please click ‘Save As’ (and then open once you have saved on your computer) rather than ‘Open’. Alternatively try a different browser (Firefox rather than Internet Explorer).

The Global Humanitarian Harm from Improvised Explosive Devices – SCID Lecture Apr 2016 – Steven Smith MBE – Show

Please submit any questions or comments within the next two weeks for Steve’s attention and/or discussion by other SCID Panel members, students and staff.

Studying and Working in the Field

Iain Blackwood and Conor FoleyWith kind permission of Iain Blackwood (SCID student March 15 intake) and Conor Foley (member of the SCID Panel of Experts), here is an excellent photo of both of them when they recently met a couple of months ago in Kabul, Afghanistan. Coincidentally, they have met a couple of times while they were both working in Afghanistan, and spoke about the SCID Course and SCID-related topics. It is also credit to Conor that Iain decided to choose the SCID MSc course, after talking to Conor about which Master’s course to pursue when they met early last year. It’s a small world and great to hear how often the paths cross of those affiliated to the SCID Course. Thank you very much for sending the photo, Iain, and for advocating on behalf of the SCID Course, Conor.

It’s great to hear such stories and also see photos of SCID students, alumni and Panel members in the field or meeting together – so please do continue to send and I’ll upload them to the SCID Blog as I’m sure others are equally delighted to see them.

Thanks again and best wishes, Eleanor

Dividing the Threat Multiplier: An Argument for Effective International Prosecution Against Grand Corruption and Kleptocratic Regimes – Maren Moon

The release of the Panama Papers by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has fuelled spectacular revelations regarding the scale of grand corruption and the wider system which enables it (ICIJ, 2016: np).  The scandal is exposing involvement by the very people and institutions who should feel morally and legally compelled to act with the highest integrity but who instead participate in a system all too frequently perpetrating wholesale crime, undue privilege, and the global erosion of security.  (Wolf, 2014: 3). They are doing so with impunity, and they are doing so while the world’s watchdogs cannot help but possess full knowledge that ‘the link between grand corruption and mass human rights violations is undeniable’ (Freedom House, 2014, and also Woodrow Wilson Center, 2016: np., and Transparency International: 2008, ).

No less than heads of states and global financial institutions linked to London, New York and Switzerland have now been connected to an enormous shadow economy responsible for: hiding assets; exercising bribery; facilitating tax evasion; practicing financial fraud; enabling drug trafficking; and participating in sexploitation. (See ICIJ, 2016 and Huffington Post a, 2016, Huffington Post b, 2016: np, and BBCb, 2016: np ). And no fewer than 11 million documents have laid bare the global elite’s participation in a system purposefully rigged to increase the gap between the absurdly wealthy and the tragically poor.  The international community would do well to note too that this is a system which facilitates crime in desperate and conflict-vulnerable settings while arming the insurgents and terrorists who operate from within such settings (Patrick, 2009 and Napoleoni, 2003). We should also recall the system intentionally erodes democratic principles of transparency, fair taxation, the right to peaceful protest, and the exercise of free speech (Woodrow Wilson Center, 2016: np and Wolf, 2014: 5-8).  In short, this is a system wherein leaders and criminals alike actively undermines everything to which the international community aspires, and for which it ultimately endeavours; sometimes selflessly and in conditions of great hardship.

It should not go unrecognised that the responses of those who have been unveiled as both witting and unwitting participants in the darker aspects of this economy, all too consistently reiterate a mantra which should give each of us a moment’s pause for reflection – that lawyers and financial experts alike still possess the legal means of perpetrating unfair, corrupt, and increasingly unfair and corrupting practices. Vested interests in lofty positions have suggested big businesses, and their high-flying personnel, need to work in the shadow economy even when it lowers opportunities for smaller businesses and honest entrepreneurs.  They argue further that legislation against bribery ‘puts British companies at a competitive disadvantage’ (Barrington, 2016: 4). And yet still too, others have intoned that society needs to tacitly accommodate unethical practices in the financial sector on the grounds that businesses in their countries are too big to fail, or too important to risk having relocate to another country. But in making these accommodations we will be enabling the capture of entire governments by organisations whose interests do not include the common citizens who eke by and sustain the infrastructure enjoyed by those who have rigged the system against them (Johnson, 2009: np).  Such accommodation could only serve to entrench profit for the few at the cost of the many. We are, in effect, now experiencing parallel attacks on democracy by the licit and illicit economies alike – both of whom are seemingly melding into a deeper, more committed relationship in an increasingly shady capacity and whose political-economy will forever thwart the international community’s efforts in bringing peace and security.

Those who evade tax legally are allowed to escape criminality by conveniently structured legal technicalities. This phenomena is relatively easy to rectify. But the Big King Kleptocrats who knowingly act outside the law, do so understanding that successful prosecution against their acts is nearly unheard of. History and statistics remain firmly on their side. This is occurring regardless of corruption’s increasingly evident role in destabilising entire continents such as Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Central and South America (Carnegie, 2015).  These actors smile comfortably while insinuating that exposure of their misdeeds might expose a larger, darker reality in which too many purportedly clean-skinned actors may also be complicit.

And while they may not be kind, they most certainly are proving wise.

Indeed, these same kleptocrats, and their advisors, will have followed closely the freedom and riches once more enjoyed by Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak who has now escaped charges of corruption and murder on a mere technicality (Reuters, 2015: np). Mubarak was a kleptocratic despot whose legacy includes death, blood, fear, and a deeply troubled country. He did not operate in a vacuum, and he was aided by the most powerful regimes in the world. But that does not excuse the outcome – nor does it justify the continuance of such behaviour. Those choosing to play in the dirty sandbox of blood and money in today’s shadow economy will have either dismissed the importance of the Arab Spring’s impact on security and human rights or cynically regarded the situation as yet another opportunity from which to leverage additional millions.  I argue that humanity can no longer afford such cynicism.

I further assert these same actors will have understood President Goodluck Jonathan’s dismissal of his bank governor following the well-intended public servant’s disclosure to the ‘Nigerian Senate that the treasury was missing billions of dollars in expected oil revenue’ (Wolf, 2014: 5). Indeed, Jonathan and his cronies seemed content to turn a blind eye to the networks which channelled money and arms to Boko Haram while leaving security forces ill equipped to quell an uprising which has now left more than 10,000 civilians and security personnel dead at the hands of Islamist savagery (Foreign Policy, 2015: np).

The kleptocrats will have further monitored the toppling of corrupt regimes in Tunisia and the Ukraine and reacted like narcissistic sociopaths unable to emotionally register the gravity of their actions, while concurrently making plans to fly to safety while maintaining access to their ill-gotten gains if the same danger knocks on their door.

The impunity enjoyed by this cohort, and structured into our globalised economy, has paved the way for much of the harm we see unfolding on the world’s stage. It has also provided resonant and compelling reasons from which the so called Islamic State, Boko Haram, and the Taliban find a seemingly endless supply of recruits (Chayes, 2007: 22, and Woodrow Wilson Center, 2016: np, and Schirch as cited in Mertus and Helsing, 2009: 68).

Whether knowingly or not, every last player in the shadow economy has contributed to an encroaching threat against humanity and which serves as nothing short of a security threat multiplier. It is of epic and global proportions.

The 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa provides an immediate example of how easily corruption might impact security on a global scale. UN donor contributions topping $5.2bn were dispersed to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.  Almost all of it vanished, and only a fraction of the disbursement was ever audited. ‘In all three countries, no individual has been tried, much less convicted, for their role in the mismanagement of money meant to save the lives of the dying’ (Al Jazeera, 2016: np.).  These funds were also intended to contain the outbreak and prevent its spread.  The UN’s Global Ebola Response data refers to the outbreak’s nature as having been of ‘widespread and intense transmission’ (UN, 2014: np). But to date, the myriad pages and resources on their website speak only of a level of need and the current status of the situation.  Their silence of the flagrant misappropriation of funds perpetuates impunity.  And such complicit behaviour could very well facilitate a new pandemic of Ebola or some other virus, which experts warn could be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to halt if not contained early, and with the utmost care; care which could never result in the face of another round of missing but badly needs funds (Oxford Martin School, 2012: np).

Grand Corruption further impacts security by destabilising regions in concussive shock waves. As migrants flee corrupt regimes and insurgencies (again, simultaneously fostered by the shadow economy), we see communities decimated, resentments grow, borders close, and trust diminish. (BBCa 2015: np,). Actions originating thousands of miles away from Europe’s shores are now threatening the cohesiveness of European states and the long architected interdependence of the EU.   The Schengen Agreement is further threatened as once ceded sovereignty is being repossessed by politicians seeking to erect borders and control the influx of desperate people fleeing the regimes which grand corruption has enabled.

Finally, kleptocracy feeds the thickening of the crime-conflict nexus as human traffickers, arms dealers, and smugglers share mutually beneficial relationships with terrorists, insurgents and the ruling elite. The nexus will continue to thicken so long as the chaotic conditions and lack of governance resulting from unabated kleptocracy ensures the conditions favourable to its growth.  (see Patrick, 2009,  and Lacher, 2012, and McMullin, 2009, and Jesperson, 2015 and Sloan and Cockayne, 2011).

And it is for these reasons, and so many more, that we must strive to end impunity for grand corruption – and the shadow economy in which it thrives.   Such a task will require concerted, relentless multilateral efforts and incredible political will.  But it can, and must be done.

We can begin by seizing opportunity from the momentum gathering in the wake of the Panama Papers and the associated Unaoil scandals in current headlines.  We can further reach out across the international community and form inter-organisational working teams to apply pressure on host-countries, the Bretton Woods institutions, and home governments.   We can institute training programs which dispel the activities which remain shrouded in mystery but whose reality can be unpacked in simple terms.  But most of all, we must challenge the sovereignty of those countries who refuse to participate in fair trade and good governance – and we must have an international court with both the will and capacity to challenge the problem.  And that court must somehow operate separately from the arbitrary and political interests of the United Nations Permanent 5.

But it has to start. Impunity has to end. And accountability must follow. And never has there been a more pressing time.


As a post-script to my previous position piece, I would like to gently assert that the International Community has understandably tolerated grand corruption in the theatres of peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations. The conditions in many of these theatres have necessitated that our precious resources be used first to protect lives and second to institute the ground-level security needed to maintain sufficient equilibrium from which to begin the long, hard institutionalisation of security sector reform, transitional justice, and micro-development projects.  But this too provides another reason why the solution to grand corruption requires an international effort outside the influence of the P5 (whose own members might be guilty of grand corruption or geopolitics).  We must seek a solution which can pre-empt the looting of banks and act independently of outside political agendas which might situate a vulnerable country between winning and losing scenarios as powerful countries battle for control by proxy. We need a solution which sends a clear signal to corrupt elites across the entire world, and not simply those situated in areas of conflict, that corruption will no longer be tolerated, nor paid for by blood of innocent people.  But we, the donor countries, must see to our own houses first.  We must ensure our hands are clean and that any authority we exercise is comprised of substance and never hollow in its nature. We must lead from the front, and from genuine experience.  But we simply cannot afford to turn away from this issue – at home or abroad.  People are dying by guns and by starvation; and they are dying by torture when taking action to stop the atrocity at hand while having inadequate support behind and beside them.  We must be that support.


Al Jazeera Media (2016) The plunder of west Africa Ebola funds. Available at: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/01/plunder-west-africa-ebola-funds-160125140155872.html (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

BBC (2016) Migration and citizenship, start the week – BBC radio 4. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06ybg7h (Accessed: 3 April 2016).

BBC (2016) Panama papers: What the documents reveal. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-35956055 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

Barrington, R. (2016) ‘Spot the Difference: Corruption Research, Academies and NGOs’, British Academy: British Academy. pp. 1–7.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (2014) Corruption: The Unrecognized Threat to International Security. Available at: http://carnegieendowment.org/files/corruption_and_security.pdf (Accessed: 14 March 2015).

Chayes, S. (2007) ‘Days of Lies and Roses: Selling Out Afghanistan’, Boston Review, , pp. 21–23.

Foreign Policy (2015) In Nigeria, $2 Billion in Stolen Funds is Just a Drop in the Corruption Bucket. Available at: http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/11/18/in-nigeria-2-billion-in-stolen-funds-is-just-a-drop-in-the-corruption-bucket/ (Accessed: 20 November 2015).

Freedom House (2014) ‘Combating Impunity: Transnational Justice and Anti-Corruption’, Washington, DC: Freedom House. pp. 1–10.

Huffington Post (2016) Big Banks Aided Firm at Center of International Bribery Scandal. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/unaoil-citibank-hsbc_us_56feba02e4b0daf53aefa1da (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

Huffington Post (2016) There’s A huge new corporate corruption scandal. Here’s why everyone should care. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/unaoil-bribery-scandal-corruption_us_56fa2b06e4b014d3fe2408b9 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

ICIJ (2016) Giant leak of offshore financial records exposes global array of crime and corruption. Available at: https://panamapapers.icij.org/20160403-panama-papers-global-overview.html (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

ICIJ (2016) The Panama papers. Available at: https://panamapapers.icij.org/ (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

Jesperson, S. (2015) ‘Development Engagement with Organized Crime: a Necessary Shift or Further Securitisation?’, Conflict, Security, & Development, 15(1), pp. 23–50.

Johnson, S. (2009) The Quiet Coup. Available at: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/the-quiet-coup/307364/ (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

Lacher, W. (2012) Organized Crime and Conflict in the Sahel-Sahara Region.

McMullin, J. (2009) ‘Organised Criminal Groups and Conflicts: The Nature and Consequences of Interdependence’, Civil Wars, 11(1), pp. 75–102.

Napoleoni, L. (2003) Modern Jihad: Tracing the Dollars Behind the Terror Networks. London: Pluto Press.

Oxfam International (2015) Richest 1% will own more than all the rest by 2016. Available at: https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2015-01-19/richest-1-will-own-more-all-rest-2016 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

Oxford Martin School (2012) Pandemics – can we eliminate major worldwide epidemics? | videos. Available at: http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/videos/view/208 (Accessed: 4 April 2016).

Patrick, S. (2011) Weak Links: Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Reuters (2015) Egypt’s high court overturns last conviction against Mubarak. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-mubarak-idUSKBN0KM0O620150113 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

Schirch, L. (2006) Human Rights & Conflict: Exploring the Links between Rights, Law, and Peacebuilding. Edited by Julie A Mertus and Jeffrey W Helsing. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace.

Sloan, B. and Cockayne, J. (2011) ‘Terrorism, Crime, and Conflict: Exploiting the Differences Among Transnational Threats?’, Policy Brief, , pp. 1–11.

Transparency International (2008) ‘Human Rights and Corruption’, Working Paper, 05, pp. 1–6.

United Nations (2014) Global Ebola crisis response | data. Available at: http://www.un.org/ebolaresponse/data.shtml (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

Wolf, M.L. (2014) ‘The Case for an International Anti-Corruption Court’, Governance Studies at Brookings, July, pp. 1–15.

Woodrow Wilson Center (2016) Combatting grand corruption internationally. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GN6HDEgiSc8 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

Small Arms Control – Jonathan Bradbeer

One of the great challenges facing the world today is the widespread availability of small arms. Deaths related to Small Arms account for large proportion of the average of 52,000 battle deaths per year, along with the average of 500,000 non combat violent deaths per year (Krause 2010 p.4).

The destruction of Small Arms often occurs during a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process at the end of conflict, a process that aims to ensure that combatants return to civilian life and do not return to armed conflict. Whilst human combatants can have alternate occupations, weapons do not, as they are designed and built to kill people. Destruction of weapons guarantees they will not kill again.

Whilst the production of Small Arms is unlikely to cease, the destruction of exisiting surplus firearms should remain a priority for the international community, for the simple reason that it is a way to reduce violence: it is more difficult to raise and arm a violent group if there are no guns available.

Vast stockpiles of weapons exist in the world today, often insecurely stored and vulnerable to theft. A large majority of these weapons are still potentially lethal, but are outmoded in terms of design or calibre, and are thus unlikely to be carried by frontline troops in modern armies. Many of these weapons are Soviet designs from the 1950’s and 1960’s, and are of extremely robust construction, meaning that once they find their way into a conflict zone, they are liable to remain in circulation for at least half a century. These weapons, typically assault rifles and sometimes smaller calibre sub-machine guns, have a high rate of fire and a very high destructive capability, but are relatively cheap, owing to their obselescence and large numbers (Collier 2009).

Many armed groups today consist of ill-trained recruits under the age of eighteen who cannot expect to be paid a wage, but instead rely on rentseeking activities from populations that live in areas that have seen a breakdown in state authority (Kaldor 2012). Africa, and the Great Lakes Region in particular, have suffered from the curse of a surplus of small arms in widespread circulation, exacerbating conflict and adding to civilian deaths. Ownership or use of an automatic weapon itself often holds appeal, as it can be used endow the owner with a sense of power and threat (Munkler 2006).

Central to any policy in reducing Small arms needs to be the tracing of the movements of small arms and tighter regulation of all small arms transfers internationally. Progress has been made at the international level in reaching agreements for the creation of linked databases to aid in the tracing of weapons, along with innovations in the marking of weapons to assist in tracing (McDonald 2015). Some progress has also been made in reducing government stockpiles in Eastern Europe, a positive development as surpluses such as these can end up being sold to third world governments.

However, the pysical destruction of weapons must remain a central focus, and it is worth considering whether this process could be streamlined and be made more efficient. On the ground, methods of disposal of weapons often remain very basic, with ritualised burnings of weapons in ceremonies, crushing of weapons with heavy vehicles and the manual destruction of weapons on lathes. This destruction process is lengthy and difficult and time consuming, as is the procedure of collecting weapons and storing them until actual destruction occurs.

One proposed solution to this could be the creation of mobile crushing units, consisting of a crushing machine that can shred steel, set on the back of a middle-weight truck, with the shredded material being conveyed on a slide to a neighbouring dump-truck type vehicle. Systems such as this could speed up one aspect of the DDR process and thus contribute to a peacebuilding process, for example meaning that once the details of a weapon are recorded, it can be destroyed immediately, without the need to collect, store and guard weapons until such time as the destruction process is begun. This does not mean that a ceremony cannot be held with select weapons at a given time, only that immediate disposal options are available. Although there are no easy ways to dispose of ammunition other than traditional demolition methods, the instantaneous destruction of small arms could already be a first step in speeding up a disarmament process.

The case for an accelerated pace in the collection and destruction of Small Arms has notably been made by events in Libya in recent years, where rebels captured huge stockpiles of weapons amassed by the Qaddafi regime and these weapons have begun to be disperesed accross Africa. These weapons have already been shown to have helped fuel the ongoing conflict in Mali (Anders 2015), and will no doubt continue to be found in Africa and beyond for years to come.


The UN has made slow but steady progress in helping to coordinate international policies regarding Small Arms and the latest Biennial Meeting of States produced a document in the form of BMS5, which features important recommendations on stockpile management, weapons marking, record keeping as well as tracing, with the progress in the latter category being a useful step forward (McDonald 2015).

However, little discussion was devoted to  weapons disposal, and possible ways forward here needs to be discussed more widely, to see what can be done to raise awareness and thus funding for projects that involve DDR. The physical destruction of weapons component of the DDR is perhaps the easiest to address and is easy to enact, and makes a simple platform to appeal from during fundraising activities, either at the regional or international level. Until this time, it seems that insufficient press has been given to DDR activities, and weapons disposal in particular, a situation which should be remedied as soon as possible since raising awareness of DDR can also raise awareness of conflict and the political choices wich can affect conflict.


Anders, H. (2015) ‘Expanding Arsenal: Insurgent Arms in Northern Mali’ in Small Arms Survey 2015, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Collier, P. (2009) Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places. Vintage:London

Kaldor, M.(2012) New and Old Wars: Organised Violence in a Global Era (3rd Ed.). Polity Press: Stanford

Krause,K.(ed.)(2010) Armed Groups and Contemporary Conflict: Challenging the Weberian State. Oxford: Routledge

McDonald, G. (2015) ‘One Meeting After Another: UN process Update’ in Small Arms Survey 2015, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Munkler, H.(2005) The New Wars. Polity Press:Cambridge.