Working Paper 04-1
This paper was prepared for the Small Arms Working Group of the Canadian Peacebuilding Coordinating Committee in support of the Peacebuilding and Human Security: Development of Policy Capacity in the Voluntary Sector Project.
In the post-Cold War era West Africa has been inundated by crises. Most of the crises that followed the removal of the superpower umbrella were internal – a shift from inter-state wars to intra-state wars. As most other regions of the world were basking in the newly found post-Cold War peace dividend, West Africa had to deal with different kinds of challenges, some of which took violent form and in some cases posed a serious challenge to the very existence of the state. The failure by some of these states to reach a peaceful resolution to domestic pressures often led to violent outbursts with serious security implications for the region. For instance, the decade-long conflicts in the Mano River Basin (Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia) have led to the massive flow of small arms and light weapons (SALW) into the region. The continuing, unchecked proliferation of these tools of war has contributed to sustaining some of the most brutal conflicts that the citizens of the Mano River Basin countries, in particular, and West Africa, in general, have experienced in the post-Cold War era.
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