Improving Human Security through the Control and Management of Small Arms

Tasneem Jamal Conventional Weapons, Defence & Human Security

Arusha, Tanzania

March 23-25, 2000

Draft Conference Report


The two-and-a-half day conference on “Improving Human Security Through the Control and Management of Small Arms,” was designed to encourage wider discussion on the issue of small arms proliferation, promote awareness and determine the possibility of a moratorium in the region. The Nairobi Declaration on the Problem of the Proliferation of Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa provided a useful platform for discussions and a point of reference. The small arms issue was examined from a variety of distinct perspectives, including those of the ecumenical community, humanitarian organizations, the private sector, legislators and policy makers, as well as the international community.

The conference was hosted by IRG/APFO and the East African Co-operation in conjunction with NISAT.

The International Resource Group on Disarmament and Security in the Horn of Africa — IRG — was formed in 1994 by a group of non-governmental humanitarian and policy organizations in the interests of stimulating a more focused and sustained exploration of alternative security structures and disarmament measures for the Horn of Africa region. IRG is designed to, among other things:

  • encourage and engage state and non-state actors in exploring new approaches to the pursuit of peace and security in the region;
  • promote the idea that disarmament, the peaceful resolution of disputes, relief and economic rehabilitation efforts, and the development of civilian structures that have the confidence and participation of the people are all inter-related objectives that must be explored and nurtured in a regional context.

The IRG continues to explore ways in which public research and public discussions can contribute to the development of local and regional policies and practices designed to restrict and control the flow of small arms and light weapons into and within the Horn of Africa region.

The Africa Peace Forum — APFO — was established as an organization with the overall objective of research and advocacy in peace and security issues in the Horn of Africa and Greater Lakes region. APFO’s specific areas of interest with respect to peacemaking and peace building include, inter-alia, political reforms and impact of peace constitutional reforms, demilitarization, mediation, community participation in peace processes and structures for managing conflict. The organization has wide experience in conflict analysis and peace building. It has a strong working relationship with governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental bodies and research institutions both in Africa and internationally. APFO also pays particular attention to the role of ecumenical organizations and grassroots organizations in peace building and has, to this end, provided consultancy services to such players. Project activities are implemented through a range of collaborative activities, including joint research, workshops and production of reports with various partner organizations and groups.

The first, specific activity of the Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers (NISAT) was organized in support of an initiative taken by the Government of Mali regarding “a moratorium on import, export and manufacture of light weapons” in West Africa. Within the political framework established by the moratorium, measures will be taken to mop up illicit arms and create a secure environment for development. Sensitization activities with concerned states in the region and the Organization of African Unity will be carried out with a view to deepening the understanding of and support for the moratorium. NISAT joined with other NGOs to initiate a joint international effort to study, control and limit the proliferation of small arms. The Initiative conducted its activities along two main tracks: (1) regional arrangements to curb the flow of small arms, and (2) application of international humanitarian law on small arms transfer. The collaboration of NISAT with IRG/APFO and EAC in hosting the Arusha meeting, therefore, brought a wealth of expertise and insight to the conference.

More than 70 individuals participated in the conference, representing governmental as well as a wide range of local, regional and international non-governmental organizations, the private sectors and ecumenical organizations.



Chair: Ms. Josephine A Odera

Introductory Remarks by Ambassador B. A. Kiplagat

In his brief introductory remarks on “Proliferation of Small Arms and Objectives of the Workshop,” Amb. Kiplagat reminded participants that everyone is a stakeholder in curbing illicit trafficking and use of small arms, hence the need to raise the level of awareness of all peoples in the region in the use of small arms and the co-operative efforts between governments, civil society, the private sector, insurance, businesses, manufacturers, transporters, etc. Conflicts attract movement of small arms from one area to another. The peaceful resolution of conflicts is therefore the only guaranteed way to curb the illicit movement of small arms.

The Executive Secretary of the EAC, Ambassador Francis Muthaura, delivered the Keynote Address, predicated on “Small Arms and Regional Security Mechanisms.” The problem posed by trafficking in, and illegal use of, small arms in this region is underscored by the series of conferences in Kampala, Nairobi and Arusha. Recommendations arising from these conferences should make significant contributions to the outcome of the United Nations Conference on the Control of Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons to be held in June/July 2001. The problem of small arms owes its origins in Africa to the struggle against colonialism as well as the Cold War. Once the weapons were issued, they became difficult to control or account for. The problem in this region had started by the early 1960s with the collapse of Congo (the Katanga rebellion). Civil wars in Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan ushered in a boom in the illegal market in small arms. The struggle for political power and a fight over natural resources or territory are other complicating factors. JA reduction in the national level of small arms requires individual commitments and community involvement; changes in attitudes among cattle-rustling communities, minimizing the need for individual self-protection through enhanced public security, a reorientation of police training and greater co-operation among law enforcement officials in neighboring countries. The Treaty of East African Co-operation adequately provides for mechanisms for regional co-operation. At the international level, Interpol as well as the United Nations need to be reinforced to deal more effectively with the problem and, by setting up a global network, to monitor the trafficking and control the illegal trade in small arms.

Mr. Stein Villumstad (NISAT) briefed the conference on the West African Moratorium which was signed in 1998 by ECOWAS members regarding the import, export and manufacture of light weapons The briefing was followed by a video on “Mali and the West African Moratorium.” The Moratorium has three objectives:

  • conflict management
  • conflict reconstruction and
  • social and economic development.

There are four primary stages in the implementation of the moratorium:

  • enhance confidence in the moratorium
  • initiate reforms in the security sector
  • put in place incentive schemes to collect and destroy weapons
  • co-operate with the civil society.

The Moratorium can be regarded as a timely measure which leads to peace and security. Some success has been registered in Mali and Liberia.

During discussions which followed, there was a general agreement that there is no need to attempt a definition of small arms but to go by the UN guidelines.

In response to a question on what it is doing in the area of curbing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the region, the East African Co-operation Secretariat said that there is a provision in the Treaty for co-operation and information-sharing within the region.



Chair: Col. P.K. Chebbet, EAC

Paul Eavis (Saferworld) on International Perspectives

The speaker reaffirmed the conference objective of creating awareness of the issue of small arms in the region and raising hope for the way forward. The UN has taken initiatives since 1995 aimed at creating international awareness of the effects of small arms. Several papers have been written outlining initiatives and the agenda for the larger UN Conference in June/July 2001 which is expected to address issues of legal and illegal transfers, transportation, manufacture, purchase, end-user certificates, etc. Implementation of any agreement will be difficult unless the international community, particularly the NGOs, is effectively involved. The UN initiative should involve an action program and specific measures for addressing small arms problems. Such measures should incorporate governments as well as regional organizations like the EAC.

The Southern Africa initiative is a good example of collaborative involvement of the international community. It addresses the proliferation of small arms in four areas:

  • combating trafficking;
  • tackling legal issues;
  • collaboration between police and civil society in the removal of small arms from society;
  • enhancing transparency through information exchange.

Southern Africa has cooperated with the donor community for resource mobilization to implement the program. One of the international NGOs involved in monitoring small arms worldwide is the International Action Network in Small Arms (IANSA).


Local and Regional Perspectives

Kenneth Kassekke (Tanzania Police) on a National Perspective

Adequate legislation exists at the national level on the legal acquisition and use of small arms, so the proliferation of illicit arms is attributed to two causes:

  • Internal: lack of effective controls at borders; loss of legal firearms by police; hiring out of firearms by those in legal possession because of poor pay; local manufacture.
  • External: civil wars and disorder in neighboring countries B DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, etc.

Unscrupulous refugees enter Tanzania with undetected small arms. This makes efforts at control difficult. Greater political will must be shown by African leaders to resolve internal conflicts. The armed forces as well as the national security forces of each country must be closely supervised to ensure that those issued with arms do not hire them out for illicit activities. Those legally issued with firearms should also be constantly monitored and reminded of their obligations as custodians of dangerous weapons.


Prof. Sam Tulya-Muhika on Civilians under firearms: the rise of uncivil society in Uganda, 1894-2000

Uganda stands out as the most militarized country in the region. There is an attempt by authorities to demystify the gun. Professors and academicians once were armed and in active combat. Uganda introduced “the child soldier” with boys and girls as young as 6 years in armed combat. Collective action needs to be taken to rid Uganda of an estimated 10,000 illegal small arms and light weapons in the country. Other mechanisms that should be put in place within the region to respond to the problem of small arms include:

  • a sub-regional convention on small arms;
  • enforcement, surveillance and supervision by the UN in collaboration with OAU, EAC, COMESA, SADC and IGAD;
  • harmonizing gun laws at the regional level;
  • maximizing peace dividends and economic cooperation through the creation of better opportunities in a bigger theater;
  • establishing a sub-regional “military hygiene.”


Richard Mugisha on Small arms from the perspective of people with disabilities: the present situation in Uganda

Uganda has one of the highest demands for small arms in the region from the rich who want to protect their wealth, the rise of weapons merchants, security firms which are allowed to arm their employees, etc. People with disabilities are as vulnerable as women and children in times of conflict. Reducing the level of small arms lies in education of the civil society, particularly the youth; creation of a gun-free zone; and a vigorous campaign against the transfers of arms.


Col. Peter B. Marwa (rtd.) on The impact of small arms in conflicts in the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa Region

Small arms and light weapons in the region manifest themselves in civil wars and cattle rustling. The AK47 is the weapon of choice. According to UN guidelines, small arms and light weapons include rifles, pistols, revolvers and all weaponry of not more than 100 mm caliber. They mainly owe their proliferation to their light weight, and because they are easy to conceal, hard to track or control, cheap, easy to circulate and transport and last a long time once in circulation. These weapons are obtainable through government sources, theft, and from demobilized soldiers who fail or refuse to turn them in. Guns are a symbol of power among the cattle-rustling communities.  Proliferation in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region is due to several factors, among which are unequal sharing of resources among states or inequality of opportunities within states through favors to certain groups or communities. Small arms and light weapons can be removed from circulation by destroying them, by providing an alternative means of survival to people who have been dispossessed, through good governance and democracy; and by the effective policing of the borders, among other measures.



Country Presentations on Legislation

Chair – B. A. Kiplagat

Uganda: Stella Sabiti, Center for Conflict Resolution

Certain internal practices or policies inhibit the curtailing of the proliferation of small arms, e.g., private armies raised by Heads of State for personal protection, besides the standing national armies; policies of arming one tribe against a neighboring and equally belligerent tribe. Civilian security should be a responsibility of the State.


Tanzania: Peter Kilambo on Firearms in Tanzania

Privatization policies of 1998/99 changed the hitherto strict legislation on guns control and ownership. Anyone who can afford a gun is now licensed. Illegal arms flow into Tanzania from Rwanda, Burundi, DRC and even from Kenya and Uganda through the Lake Victoria Port of Mwanza. Laws on gun control need to be enforced more vigorously.


Kenya: Dr. Philip Nyinguro

Problems facing Kenya on firearms legislation include politicization of legislation, absence of political will and the existence of “small armies.” Kenya’s firearms act is deficient in that it lacks provision for proper background checks. Besides, there are too many security firms, thus rendering it impossible to know who is ultimately responsible for civilian security.



Chair – Dr. Bissem

Ms. Bertha Amisi on Youth and Small Arms

There is a high involvement of youth in the indiscriminate use of small arms. This has many causes. It results from the military techniques and political strategy of armed groups. Youth are easy targets because of their energy, creativity and need for employment. It is therefore important to engage the youth in sustainable development and offer other options to their taking up arms. Youths are much more vulnerable to being lured into violence; they comprise half of the population of many African countries. As they come to participate in war at such a young age, they begin to know warfare as a way of life and have difficulty transitioning into other ways of life and earning a living. The resources that are allocated to arms could be allocated to development activities that would offer many more productive opportunities for youth and the improvement of the overall economic and social situation.

In order to keep the youth from taking up arms and a life of violent action, there needs to be a shift of priorities and programs that help to empower the youth in other ways. The following needs have been identified: training in trade and self-marketing; training in private enterprise development and management; engagement of youth in community development; peace and civic education for youth; programs to encourage self-reliance, personal dignity and self-acceptance in youth.

Another approach for combating the problem of large numbers of youth who take up small arms is to deconstruct the war economy. This requires not only a political approach, but also a commitment to constructive economic growth and development at all levels.

There is also a deep anger among the youth against the elders, arising from a lack of political socialization into leadership. The youth are taught in school that a rigid and inflexible elder represents authority. There needs to be more understanding, support and empowerment of youth by the elders, which encourages them to lead in positive ways.

The large numbers of youth taking up arms has economic, political and social causes. Lack of employment and prominence of the criminal and war economy means that youth are easy targets for armed groups and violence. War, in fact, ends up creating the largest job market. Political clashes, poor governance, a culture of impunity and the absence of political initiative to combat the problem create an environment which encourages youth to take up arms.

It is important to put into place pre-emptive measures to combat the problem of youth involvement in armed warfare and violence. This means that the educational system must be developed and must offer an outlet for positive creativity of the youth. Civil society plays an important role in getting youth involved in creative work and in encouraging the government to act.


Joseph Makokha on Media and Small Arms

The media is very powerful and, like other elements of civil society, is the gatekeeper. There is, however, an absence of information about many things that have to do with the escalation of conflict. The media helps to demystify the information and jargon of experts by looking at the macro-level. The media helps to convert the unknown into the known. The media can blow the whistle on a particular issue so that the government will begin to address the concerns.

In relation to the issue of small arms, the media can highlight the distribution and trafficking of arms, set standards for mass culture, and inject moral education into society, which will help to create informed citizens, without which it is difficult to have good governance.

Civil society must engage with the media and inform it about what is happening on the ground. Civil society can educate the media about arms flows and other dynamics that encourage armed conflict in order to help the media inform the larger public. There is a large presence of journalists in Nairobi that civil society can reach out to, inform and educate. There are many challenges because the newspapers are owned privately and influenced by political interests. There is also the concern that media may misrepresent NGO interests and programs. Nevertheless, there is a large opportunity that exists in the media and a developed partnership between media and civil society could be very productive.


Eddie Mworozi on Cattle Rustling in Karamoja

The availability of cheap arms and political manoeuvering which has armed other tribes against the Karamojong will lead to the escalation of the conflict. There has also been a crisis of elders in the community since they have been unable to deal with many of the new problems. The Karomojong should be incorporated into the Ugandan system in order to enable them to be effectively governed and less marginalized. The Karamojong must be involved in developing a solution to the problem.


Ken Mkutu on Banditry, Small Arms and Conflict: the connection between the proliferation of small arms and cattle rustling in northern Kenya

The availability of small arms has made an activity that has taken place for many decades much more violent and destructive. In the past, it was a cultural activity of exchange between the tribes; however, the high demand for meat and the easy availability of arms has escalated cattle rustling into a destructive and lucrative business. Full disarmament, coupled with development and education programs would help to attain peace in the region.

Case studies that require further research in relation to small arms and light weapons are:

  • the problem of the unequal distribution of resources and representation in the political system for such marginalized groups as the Karamojong,
  • the problem of the poor education of rural populations,
  • the problem of the absence of adequate or inclusive governance and a cultureof impunity in many rural communities.



Chair – Stein Villumstad

The session focused on the impact of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons on the humanitarian agencies and the experiences of the ecumenical organizations with armed communities. The humanitarian actors aim to promote human values and minimize human suffering as a result of armed conflicts and natural disasters based on international and humanitarian laws. On the other hand the ecumenical bodies emphasize enhancement of human values and morals from religious perspectives, international, humanitarian, and municipal laws. Both the humanitarian and the ecumenical actors have played key roles in providing relief, medical assistance, shelter, rehabilitation, education and resettlement to victims of armed conflicts and natural calamities. The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Norwegian Red Cross represented the humanitarian agencies while the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and the Christian Councils of Tanzania (CCT) provided the church perspectives.


Mr. Vincent Conod (ICRC) on The Humanitarian Impact of the Proliferation of the Small Arms Trade in East Africa

The ICRC provides a platform where donors channel assistance to help people suffering as a result of armed conflicts or natural disasters. One of the greatest challenges facing the humanitarian agencies is how to cope with the unpredictable and ever changing conflict scenarios, such as the sudden outbreak of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the humanitarian disasters in the Sierra Leone conflict, the clashes between the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) and the Rwandan People’s Army (RPA) last year(1999) in Kisangani. Conflicts also have a tendency of engulfing the entire region. For instance the conflict in the DRC now involves forces from Angola, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

The use of sophisticated weapons in the conflicts has increased not only the level of human casualties and the destruction of properties, but also the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees. The continuing conflicts in the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa regions have hampered economic recovery and development. Regulatory measures applied to nuclear weapons should apply to small arms and light weapons as well.

A survey by the International Committee of the Red Cross supports the view that non- combatants are the major victims of the armed conflicts. In Somalia, 65 % of the civilians interviewed had a family member killed, 56% had their belongings looted while 39% were raped. The continuing conflict in Somalia is partly attributed to the absence of central authority, the decline of traditional leadership, ignorance of existing international and humanitarian laws by major actors and determination by the self-proclaimed clan leaders to win the war at all costs.

In Cambodia, 71% of the non-combatant injuries were to civilians. The number of arms available among the Cambodians is also rather high. There is a strong correlation between widespread proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and violent conflict.

Magne Barth (Norwegian Red Cross) on The Red Cross and Small Arms

The Norwegian Red Cross is a platform that brings together individuals and institutions with strong intellectual and ideological leanings. The organization recognizes the importance of partnership and networking with institutions, organizations and individuals worldwide The approach not only incorporates wide perspectives on the state of human security but has also made the Norwegian Red Cross one of the most active National Red Cross societies in the world. Norwegian Red Cross works closely with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norwegian Church Aid and others, in promoting a better understanding of small arms, mobilizing resources and developing research in small arms.

The Red Cross aims at stimulating public debate on the issue of small arms and light weapons while ensuring that the efforts do not compromise the neutrality of the organization. It also urges states to halt the transfer of small arms to parties that are in violation of international humanitarian law.


Dr. Peter Bissem (NCCK) on The Ecumenical Community Experience with Small Arms in East Africa

The NCCK is an umbrella organization that brings together the Protestant churches in Kenya. Since the advent of political pluralism in the country in 1991 NCCK has been more visible in calling upon government authorities to establish structures that will sustain the growth of the budding democracy and providing medical relief and resettling Kenyans who have been displaced by politically instigated tribal clashes. The NCCK has also been actively involved in trauma healing, counseling and reconciliation of the IPDs and victims of cattle rustling practices.

In order to address the problem of small arms and light weapons, NCCK pointed out that the living conditions of the pastoral communities in East Africa must be improved. The communities have been marginalised in all areas of development, infrastructure is underdeveloped, education and economic development are absent. As a consequence, the Council called for action on concerns of all sections of the citizenry by the authorities. The frustration of such communities translates into hate and anger and provides fertile ground for an armed struggle for survival and recognition.

The issue of poverty amongst the pastoral communities must be addressed if people have to re-direct their energies from mere survival measures to development. High levels of poverty compounded by frequent droughts and famine has meant that affected communities have had to adopt measures to defend themselves.

Recent cases from Kenya where a top military officer was hijacked despite having a gun and two legislators were shot by armed thugs are clear testimonies that the issue of small arms and light weapons amongst the population must be addressed more urgently than ever.

A call was made for a comprehensive intervention strategy where people are actively involved. The strategy must take into account regional and international inter-linkages of the proliferation of small arms.


Herbert Lubyama (CCT) on An Ecumenical Initiative in Tanzania

The Christian Council of Tanzania and the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) have embarked on an awareness program aimed at sensitizing the Tanzanians on the dangers of the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons. The objective is to lobby the government of Tanzania to reconsider free trade in small arms and light weapons; stigmatize and campaign among citizens against indulging in the private possession of small arms and light weapons; and monitor trade agreements related to the transfer of arms and point out the loopholes which allow the small arms trade to thrive.

Since 1999, the ecumenical community in Tanzania has informed the public about the threat of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons through newsletters, magazines, bulletins and the print and electronic media. The community also participates in conferences and shares information on the issue of arms transfer control and other related developments at regional and international forums.

Participating organizations were urged to share material, intellectual and financial resources to support the efforts. This will help CCT to intensify the campaign grounded on well-informed strategy through the church structures.



Chair – Stella Sabiti  The Tanzanian Church Perspective

Three million civilians have been killed by small arms in Tanzania since 1990. The Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT) lobbies the government to refrain from allowing free trade in small arms and light weapons; to stigmatize and mount a campaign among the citizens against indulging in private possession of small arms; to monitor trade agreements that make it easy to traffic in arms; and to inform churches through church newsletters, bulletins, magazines and electronic media about the proliferation and detriment of small arms and light weapons inside as well as outside the country.

CCT intends to intensify a grassroots campaign through the Church network and appeal to colleagues outside Tanzania to share their material, financial and intellectual resources to sustain the campaign.


Uganda: The Karamoja Project Implementation Unit (KPIU)

The Unit was established in 1995 with financial support from European Union and is currently involved in peace initiatives using these funds as well as funds from the Italian Government, the Lutheran World Federation, International Voluntary Service and the International College for Health Co-operation. Problems in the region include cattle rustling within the district and across international borders; ambushes of vehicles and shooting/robbery of occupants. Government initiatives involve peace meetings at various levels with all stakeholders and a proposal for the Karamoja FM radio station to share information with the community on the dangers of cattle rustling and small arms.


Kenya: The NCCK Response

The NCCK Community Peace Building and Development Project started in 1992-3 during the land clashes with the objective to:


  • Prevent ethnic conflicts;
  • Improve inter-ethnic relationship and,
  • Reduce the suffering caused by ethnic violence.

So far, NCCK has been able to involve the community in the development of relevant and acceptable teaching aids, which include posters, videos, films, documentation of role plays, dramas and roving peace choirs as well as peace tournaments.


Pax Christi: Mobilizing Community for Disarmament

Between May 1999 and January 2000, at least 1,758 people were killed in cattle rustling in the Karamoja area in Uganda B an average of seven deaths per day. Each Karamoja has more than one gun. NGOs promote peace through common grazing areas, football matches for youth, direct economic system and mobile schools. Young men are being trained in peace methods while peace by elders continues; women are encouraged to change their habits, attitudes and ethos; NGOs work with communities that have been disarmed and are involved in community exchanges with arms and in the registration of arms.



Chair: Prof. Sam Tulya-Muhika

George Kazibwe, Uganda Chamber of Commerce

Arms were introduced into Uganda in the early 19th century. As a consequences, a few cattle were raided. The proliferation of small arms started in the early 1970s and the consequences have been armed robberies, political instability, increased insecurity in the country, loss of investment and business, an increase in the cost of services and a decrease in purchasing power. There is a need for greater co-operation among authorities in the region and, in particular, in the affected areas through special education and programs, collaboration between security agents, and improved infrastructure and social amenities.


Mr. Ssebuku, Uganda National Insurance

The activities and operations of insurance are mainly concentrated in urban areas. Insurance companies therefore have an interest in curbing the use of small arms. Problems arising are car-jacking, insecurity and an increase in premiums, and a loss of business, particularly tourism. The licencing of private security firms to carry arms has had a positive impact. On the other hand, insurance activities in the insecure areas have decreased when branches closed.

Dr. Yousif B. Idris, Center for Humanitarian Affairs and Resource Management (CHARM) on The proliferation of small arms in Sudan (case of Dar Fur State)

The Greater Darfur area has a population of about 4.8 million, of which 30% is nomadic. An unofficial count puts the stockpile of small arms in the area at between 350,000 to 400,000, though official records indicate only 200,000. The arms are needed for personal security and for traditional reasons. Supplies come from the various military coups in the Sudan, the Libya/Chad border conflict, the internal Chad conflict, conflict in the southern Sudan and small arms merchants. The effects of small arms on the community include enhanced tribal hostilities, retarded development, rural-urban migration, a loss of property and an inhibited flow of commerce and trade.



Chair: Pof. Sam Talya-Muhika

Working Group I – Policy and Practice (Chair – Amb. B.A. Kiplagat)


  • Circulation and proliferation of small arms can be greatly reduced through poverty reduction, education and good governance.
  • Existing gun legislation should be overhauled and updated in order to cope with volatile situations.
  • Political goodwill is needed to implement existing legislation.
  • Harmonize legislation and practice regarding gun control in cattle-rustling areas within the region.
  • Given the enormity of the problem there is a need to intensify the campaign through the media in the region.
  • Statistics need to be compiled regarding the cost in human lives, property and national economy resulting from the illegal use of firearms.
  • Challenge legislators on the inadequacy of existing laws and take security matters all the way down to the grassroots.
  • NGOs should take a close look at the Nairobi Declaration and identify the parts they can implement.
  • The NGOs should also engage with organized non-state actors regarding what registration and control mechanisms they have in place to ensure non-misuse of weapons in their hands.
  • In order to avoid retrogression, States, non-state actors, NGOs, and all concerned should embark on training and education of the communities in cattle-rustling areas.


Working Group II – National, Regional and International Issues (Chair – EAC)


National level:

  • Serious gaps between various pieces of legislation and between legislation and enforcement, due to lapses in governance in the States of the region, need to be addressed. More effective legislation, policing and reversing the culture of violence should be investigated.
  • National resources are unevenly distributed in the region, with some groups marginalized. People should be educated on their rights to these resources with a view to tilting the imbalance.
  • Security of citizens is the responsibility of the government in any country.
  • Development activities, especially education and employment, should be national priorities in order to avoid confrontation.
  • There is an urgent need for multidisciplinary research on the proliferation of small arms and to create a coalition of all stakeholders for the short-, medium- and long-term resolutions of the problem.
  • Greater attention must be paid to the problems of marginalized pastoralist communities living in marginal lands. Economic development and fair resource allocations are urgently needed to provide alternatives to gun-related activities.
  • Use traditional elders and home-grown approaches and solutions to resolve community problems.
  • Encourage greater cooperation between police and communities so that people volunteer to surrender guns.
  • NGOs should be more involved in, and encourage, a national debate on budget allocation to ensure that resources are allocated to address the small arms issue.

Regional and International Levels:

  • Develop an integrated and comprehensive regional approach to control the proliferation of small arms.
  • Conduct a comprehensive study in the whole region to determine the best way of harmonizing national laws relating to guns.
  • East Africa Cooperation should take the lead in assisting member states in harmonizing gun laws and policies, which should be regional rather than national in character.
  • Regional bodies like IGAD, COMESA, etc, have a role in addressing problems of small arms and should act as catalysts in mobilizing external resources. These regional bodies should also work closely with civil society in developing strategies to address the problem.
  • An analysis should be made to determine the reasons why communities engage in small arms activities as opposed to other alternatives.


Working Group III Specific Concerns (Chair – Peter Bissem)


Youth and Small Arms:

  • Decrease availability of arms to youth.
  • Create other employment opportunities.
  • Improve the education system and offer other opportunities for the expression of young people’s creativity.
  • Civil society should inform government of the realities, and advocate for all of the above.
  • Develop and support preexisting youth ministries in the government, and build on other governmental initiatives to help youth.
  • Hold a meeting to bring together people and organizations working with youth to discuss in more depth the issues that arise regarding youth.

Media and Small Arms:

  • NGOs must inform and educate journalists about the issues. They must use the media as a resource for advocacy and education.
  • Civil society must take advantage of the presence of so many regional and international journalists in Nairobi by informing them of events, and educating them about issues, such as small arms.
  • Civil society should create partnerships with journalists to enable the exchange of information.
  • Increase government accountability and the transparency of their actions by informing the media.
  • Hire journalists as NGO communications officers.
  • Train the media to approach events and issues from an analytical and educational perspective.
  • Organize a dialogue meeting between NGOs and journalists. Bring journalists into NGO meetings to help to educate them about the issues.
  • Inform and train the media in order to help them educate the public and the decision-makers.
  • Organize a weekly television program on small arms.
  • Establish a web site on small arms so that journalists and NGOs can exchange information and analysis. If this is not secure enough, then explore other alternatives for the exchange of information.
  • NGOs should educate the media by taking them around to see different aspects of the situation with their own eyes.

The case studies demonstrate the complexity and interconnectedness of the issues. Small arms are a vehicle for discussing and analyzing many of the issues of conflict and conflict prevention, as well as the cause of increased violence in many conflicts. The primary recommendation arising from the case studies is that each region and case needs to be examined within its particular context, but that there are overarching issues that should be addressed in reference to small arms (i.e., arms flows, unemployment and economic development, accountable governance, unequal access to resources and education, and security).


Working Group IV – National Community Initiatives


  • Regional and international approach (EAC, SADC, EU, NAFTA, UN)
  • Coordination of all the problems
  • Networking and sharing of information (regional approach)
  • People-centered security defense approach
  • Research
  • Programs at regional level to address issues of poverty
  • Transparency, accountability and responsibility in approach
  • Monitoring of guns
  • Make positive use of media to highlight the issues
  • Encourage border meetings between countries
  • Formation of secretariat for coordination
  • Link government with private sector and civil society
  • Logistic support for the police – transport, etc.
  • Civic and peace education
  • Sub-regional, regional and global approach
  • Information sharing
  • Human rights (activists).


Working Group V – Nairobi Declaration (Chair: Amb. Kiplagat)


  • The conference should go beyond the Nairobi Declaration by looking at three areas: State Actors, Civil Society and cooperative efforts between the two.
  • Create an Advisory Committee/Group of about seven people from the region (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania), with a defined mandate which will include a close monitoring of the implementation of the Declaration.
  • The Advisory Committee is to coordinate research and monitor laws adopted by member states of the Nairobi Conference on the problem of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the region.
  • The Advisory Committee is to look as well into the special cases of Somalia and Southern Sudan.
  • Organize a joint meeting of senior security agents, customs officials, and immigration officers in the region, under the auspices of East African Cooperation and UNAFRI, in order to strengthen regional cooperation in combating illicit circulation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons. 
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